Prepare for interesting show

BARRY MACDONALD, 24 HOURS VANCOUVER

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Well, so much for the perfect season.

You do realize the Vancouver Canucks missed their shot at running the table, by losing Sunday night in overtime to the Anaheim Ducks. This may have somehow escaped you, Canuck fan, but no team has ever won all of its preseason games, and gone unblemished through the regular season. Was 89 straight wins asking too much? Apparently so.

Hopefully the slump doesn't carry over into the regular season opener, which happens to be tonight at GM Place. Now that I have my tongue displaced from my cheek, let's discuss the prospects for the 39th edition of the Canucks. Not to gloat, not to drop an "I told you so" on you, but I did suggest in this space a couple of months ago that all was not lost in an offseason of change. With the opener upon us, I feel even more optimistic.

This is not an exact science, this predicting stuff. There's so much to consider.

Forget for a moment what the Canucks have done over the summer. I will compare this edition of the Canucks to the one that began the 2007-08 season.

Let's compare who is gone with who is now here. Is Pavol Demitra an upgrade over Brendan Morrison? Yes. Ryan Johnson over Byron Ritchie? Yes.

Darcy Hordichuk over Jeff Cowan? With all due respect to Hordichuk, I would take a fire hydrant over Cowan. Is Steve Bernier an upgrade over Markus Naslund? I'll take a motivated s*&t disturber over a disinterested captain.

I like what Mike Gillis has done with the back end as well. He kept the nucleus intact... for now at least. Gone is Aaron Miller, and most recently, Lukas Krajicek. Miller was an aging veteran, well past his best before date, while Krajicek was simply too polite. Shane O'Brien and Rob Davison won't soon be confused with Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey, but they bring some much-needed belligerence.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. It was broke, so they did. Tonight's opening day roster will feature at least seven new faces. Gillis has infused the roster with an intriguing blend of toughness, grit, and skill. And he still has some money to spend, assuming Mats Sundin isn't suddenly motivated by the $20 million dangling before him. Stay tuned. I think it's going to be a very interesting season in Vancouver.


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