Canucks looking good

BARRY MACDONALD -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

I am not big on making predictions. To prognosticate in this space about the fortunes of the Vancouver Canucks over the next six months (and maybe seven or eight?) is easy. To actually have those prognostications validated next spring, is another thing entirely. That said, here goes.

I am comfortable with this prediction. The Canucks should be pretty good between the pipes. This Luongo guy seems to have the art of goaltending figured out. He is more important to his team than any other player is to any other team. Including that kid in Pittsburgh. He will play 70-plus games and be the best goalie on the ice in 80 per cent of them. He is that good; he is that valuable. Curtis Sanford could have an autograph-free year.

Luongo can feel good about the second-to-last line of defence. There is experience in front of him. The quartet of Willie Mitchell, Kevin Bieksa, Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo stack up favorably with any top four in the league. Aaron Miller adds depth, and Lukas Krajicek played some of his best hockey in the playoffs last season.

The mission for these guys, and they have no choice but to accept it, is to keep opposing forwards away from Luongo. Block shots? Great. Move the puck quickly out of the zone? Yep. But more than anything, stop the crease-crashers. Luongo can't make saves from the disabled list.

Up front, there are questions. If they haven't been answered by the quarter-pole, Dave Nonis might have to act.

Will Mason Raymond fulfil the triplet role? Will Ryan Shannon be a fit alongside Markus Naslund and Ryan Kesler? Will Taylor Pyatt score 23 goals independent of help from the twins?

The number of questions are unsettling.

With the success of the top two lines hinging to a degree on two promising, but unproven players, it is fair to be somewhat skeptical at this point.

It would be a shame to see the potential of this team, compromised by a collective inability to put the biscuit in the basket.

But don't underestimate Alain Vigneault's ability to put the right people, on the right lines.

Canuck fan, feel good.

There is tremendous potential here. Outstanding head coach and assistants. Luongo. The back four. The twins. Those are the givens. The great unknown is what the other 10 forwards can offer up. Stay tuned. 


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