A look ahead to playoffs

GUTS McTAVISH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:47 PM ET

The Canucks have the luxury this season of narrowing their first-round advance scouting down to two teams: The Flames and the Blackhawks.

Unless, of course, you subscribe to the Blue Jackets finishing fourth in the West, passing both Vancouver and Chicago along the way. Then maybe there are three teams to scout. Not sure I subscribe to such a long shot, so I'm sticking with the two that make the most sense.

Let's start with Calgary. If the Canucks drop back to sixth allowing Columbus to pass them, they would open on the road in Calgary.

The Flames present a few issues for the Canucks, most notably Miikka Kiprusoff. This is a very different goalie than the one the Canucks lit up in the opening two games this season.

The Sedins, who still need to prove they can excel in April, will have to find some room alongside giants like Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr. The silver lining here could be the new break-out ability the Sedins have added to their once-predictable repertoire, thanks to their new linemate Alex Burrows.

Finally, Roberto Luongo has to win on the road. For the Canucks to advance here, he will need to steal one or two games in Calgary.

Not an easy task. Avoid this team at all costs in the first round.

And now, Chicago. This is the most likely scenario for a first-round opponent. Home ice may not be decided until the last few games of the season. Not sure it matters.

The Canucks match up well in this situation. They will face a very young, inexperienced team when it comes to post-season play. The position where you want the most experience is the blueline. On Chicago, only Brian Campbell has seen playoff hockey.

The rest are pure virgins on defence. This is a position to be exploited and if these two teams do match up, I like the Canucks in six.

vancouver.24hrs.ca/gutsmctavish


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