Best Cup chance for West Coast aces

Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin (L) celebrates his goal with his brother Henrik Sedin against the...

Vancouver Canucks' Daniel Sedin (L) celebrates his goal with his brother Henrik Sedin against the Colorado Avalanche during the 2nd period of their NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia November 24, 2010. (REUTERS/Ben Nelms)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

Forty years in the making.

Seemingly everybody other than the Toronto Maple Leafs fans hasn't had to wait that long for a title.

Is this the year the Vancouver Canucks finally claim a Stanley Cup crown? It's probably their best shot.

The Canucks were a favourite heading into the NHL season, and they responded by running away with the Presidents' Trophy as regular-season champs.

Think about it. While the rest of the Western Conference contenders were either jostling for home-ice advantage in the first round or fighting tooth and nail just to make the second season, the Canucks were home and cooled, having claimed the conference title before the end of March.

Now to see if it translates into a celebration on Robson Street and all over the West Coast. The building blocks are sure there. Pick a part of the team--any part -- and try to find a weakness.

Want scoring? How about the Sedin brothers, who've done the incredible trick of winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top point producer in back-to-back seasons. Henrik did it last season. Daniel is the champ this year.

Want scoring depth? Ryan Kesler is one of the most complete players. Mikael Samuelsson is known for kicking it up a notch come playoff time, and you still have Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond as part of a strong supporting cast.

Defensively, it's been a nightmare this season -- not in the Canucks zone--but for the medical staff. But somehow a team which had to go down to the No. 13 blueliner on the depth chart is also the stingiest in the league.

That brings us to goal-tending. For years, Roberto Luongo's detractors said he's overrated, but now there's a segment saying the No.-1 goalie is under-appreciated. Either way, he's been helped by the sparkling season from backup Cory Schneider. Luongo is entering this year's playoffs fresher than ever before.

Only once in the last eight years has the regular-season champ gone on to hoist the Cup. The Canucks are capable of reversing that trend.

To their fans, it's been 40 years of anticipation.

#1 SEED

54-19-9 GF: 262 GA: 185 PP: 24.3% PK: 85.6%

PLAYER TO WATCH

LW Daniel Sedin

A year ago, he was the 'other' Sedin twin.

While Henrik went on to claim the scoring title and the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP, daniel was left in the shadows -victimized in big part by injury which cost him 19 regular-season games.

The table was turned this season.

Daniel Sedin took his turn playing the star with a breakout season and led the Canucks' league-best offensive attack.

Now to see it translate into a Stanley Cup title.

Over the past two seasons, both Daniel and Henrik managed to be point-per-game players in the second season, but it hasn't registered a trip even to the Western Conference final.

The critics will openly wonder whether the sedins have the moxie to succeed through the four-round battle it takes to win an NHL title.

The best chance to silence those naysayers is staring them in the face.


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