Canucks: 10 questions for the 2013 season

 

A year after falling one game short of the Stanley Cup, the Canucks couldn't survive one round. Now they're back again for another bid for the Stanley Cup, and if they want 2013 to be more 2011 than 2012, they'll have to find the right answer these 10 questions.

 
 
 
 
<div id="page1">CAN THE SEDINS BOUNCE BACK? It was a down year for the Sedins -- their worst statistical season since 2007-08, and if it was the sign of a decline, the Canucks are in trouble. If it was a blip, however, the Canucks will be just fine.</div>
 

CAN THE SEDINS BOUNCE BACK? It was a down year for the Sedins -- their worst statistical season since 2007-08, and if it was the sign of a decline, the Canucks are in trouble. If it was a blip, however, the Canucks will be just fine.

Photograph by: Jason Payne, PNG

 
<div id="page1">CAN THE SEDINS BOUNCE BACK? It was a down year for the Sedins -- their worst statistical season since 2007-08, and if it was the sign of a decline, the Canucks are in trouble. If it was a blip, however, the Canucks will be just fine.</div>
CAN RYAN KESLER GET HEALTHY IN TIME? And we don't mean sort of healthy. We mean all the way healthy. Kesler has a tendency to come back a little earlier than he should, and if he returns to the lineup anything less than 100%, the Canucks will struggle, as they did last year. However, if Kesler can find the form he found deep in the 2011 playoffs, the Canucks could find themselves deep in the 2013 playoffs.
CAN THE CANUCKS FIND A CONSISTENT FOURTH LINE? It's one thing they lacked, even in their Cup run, and it's something that the teams that have had playoff success always seem to have. Manny Malhotra looks to be the incumbent centre on that line, and consistent play from him and Dale Weise, or Steven Pinizzotto, or Aaron Volpatti, or anyone else would be a boon.
CAN THE CANUCKS' POWERPLAY GET BACK ON TOP? Jason Garrison looks to be the new addition to a powerplay that noticeably missed Christian Ehrhoff last year, and if he can fill Ehrhoff's roamer role, jumping into open areas and breaking down the opposing penalty-kill, then the Canucks might be able to ice the lethal powerplay from two years ago. The Sedins will have to adjust to a powerplay without a right-hand shot, however. Can they make it work?
CAN CORY SCHNEIDER HANDLE THE STARTER'S JOB? He'd better hope so. If there's one thing he knows for sure, it's that fans won't tolerate anything less than stellar netminding. The Canucks feel similarly. They rely on it, and if Schneider isn't consistently above-average, the Canucks won't be either.
DO THE CANUCKS HAVE ENOUGH TEAM TOUGHNESS? Every year it's the same question, and the acquisition of Zack Kassian as well as the Canucks' attempt to build a fourth line that can play are their attempts to answer it in the affirmative. Teams will continue to go hard at them if the Canucks don't have the guys to mount a little pushback.
CAN JASON GARRISON MESH IN THE CANUCKS' TOP FOUR? If he can't the Canucks have a three-man top four, but it's worse than that. Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis will likely continue to play together, but Garrison needs to mesh with Alex Edler, otherwise the All-Star Swede will struggle too. If that happens, Rick Bowness will start experimenting within his top six and the whole thing could get messy. Better that Garrison just fits.
CAN THE CANUCKS SOLVE THEIR LUONGO PROBLEM? It's not as dire as it sounds. The Canucks could get something that helps them in a trade, or Luongo could stick around and help them win games. But if the circus surrounding their high-paid netminder becomes a distraction, well, that's obviously not helpful.
CAN MAXIM LAPIERRE CENTRE THE THIRD LINE? That's where the feisty French-Canadian will begin the season. It's a job he held during the Canucks' run to the Final in 2011, but Alain Vigneault seemed reluctant to give it back to him in 2012. Now, it appears AV has no other choice. Lapierre needs to make the most of this reluctant promotion.
CAN CHRIS TANEV AND ZACK KASSIAN BE FULL-TIME NHLERS? They're fortunate, in that this is a shortened season, so they should be able to avoid prospect fatigue. But if they can't avoid looking like prospects, the Canucks will struggle. Vancouver needs Kassian's toughness and Tanev's poise if they hope to be deep enough to go deep.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice
Who will be the NHL's worst?
 
Sabres, easily
Hurricanes
Some other team
Don't know, but would love for my team to get McDavid!