Playoff hopes ride on Bieksa

GUTS MACTAVISH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:33 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- It's a popular thought heading down the stretch that the Canucks will only go as far as goalie Roberto Luongo takes them.

In both of the last two playoff series wins, the team has been very much reliant on Lu shutting the door on the likes of Dallas in 2007 and St Louis in 2009.

This year is a much different story as the Canucks and their second-ranked offence and dominant home record have - for the first time since acquiring Luongo - the ability to outscore his mistakes.

That said, there is a much more pressing issue than goaltending heading into this postseason. It's safe to say that this version of the Vancouver Canucks will only go as far as their questionably thin defence takes them.

Which means this team will only go as far as defenceman Kevin Bieksa takes them.

Yeah, I said it.

With fellow D-man Willie Mitchell's return this season in serious doubt, the pressure is squarely on a player whose 2006-07 emergence went a long way to making most of us forget how much this team missed Ed Jovanovski.

For the Canucks to make a deep run this year, Kevin Bieksa will need to be front and centre, logging major minutes while playing with that elusive mean streak.

Bottom line: The difference between an early exit and a major bid for Lord Stanley could hinge on whether or not Bieksa can play more like JovoCop and a lot less like Keystone Cop.

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