In a season of unprecedented achievements, the Canucks added a couple more notches to their collective bedpost tonight. With their franchise record 9th consecutive road victory, they also clinched their first ever Western Conference regular season championship.
So with five games remaining in the season, we are left to contemplate just who the Canucks might face in round one of the playoffs. And despite the certainty of their positioning, the playoff seeding of spots fourth through eighth is wide open.
As of this writing the Canucks could face any one of seven teams to start the Stanley Cup marathon. We present the possible combatants and then request your feedback in a long overdue poll question.
Phoenix- The team about to be without a home sits in fourth spot right now, but is only three points up on the eighth seed and an encounter with the locals. The Coyotes are a well-coached club that plays competitively every night, but would likely lack the depth to match the Canucks over a 7 game series. Not to mention that every game in the desert would seem like a home game for the Canucks.
Los Angeles- The slow starting Kings are peaking at the right time and gave the Canucks a run for their money in last year’s playoff opener. Sitting in fifth place currently and two points up on the eighth spot, they are likely a better team than their record indicates and as such would be a team to avoid early.
Nashville- We’ve seen plenty of this squad recently and know exactly what to expect. If we score first, they are done. If they score first, be prepared to grind it out against one of the league’s best net minders. In the end, it’s goalies like Pekka Rinne that become heroes come playoff time though given the Predators’ anemic offense it would take a meltdown by the Canucks’ keepers to keep this series close.
Anaheim – The Ducks can still play big and nasty, which isn’t exactly in the Canucks’ wheelhouse. But they are clearly lacking the depth from their championship club of a few years ago. And the lethal Canucks’ power play is the biggest deterrent to the Ducks’ chippy play.
Chicago- Publicly, the Canucks will declare that they want to play the Hawks and face their demons. Privately, they ought to think otherwise. Chicago has certainly lost depth, but not top end talent and have the biggest intangible in their favour. At the very least, it would be nice to have the Sharks or Wings soften them up for us first.
Calgary- The Flames have cooled off again after a scorching mid season run. They are likely running out of games to qualify anyway. We like the Canucks’ chances against the aging Flames. And there’s often good mojo from beating them. Both previous Cup runs started with a first round Flame extinguishing.
Dallas - Four points down with two games in hand on current eight seeded Chicago, the Stars are still in it. And if regular season play is any indication, would the be the preferred match for the hometown heroes. Their goalie melts down at the mention of having to play Vancouver and Marc Crawford will have his team amped up to take stupid penalty after another. Bring on the Stars.
We welcome your take on whom the Canucks ought to play when the season starts for real.Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, NHL, Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Western Conference