Half the fun of watching sports is speculation. Before tonight’s season opener, I thought I’d better make a couple of predictions about the 2007-2008 edition of the Vancouver Canucks. Over at the Canucks Hockey Blog, we see that there are plenty of questions to answer:
It goes without saying that Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison have to produce more, and at least to start the season, the Canucks are relying in large part on the youngsters to provide some offense. Can Ryan Shannon and Ryan Kesler, both playing with Naslund, and Mason Raymond, playing with the Sedins, answer the bell?
I’d add to that two more:
- Can the defense score as often as they did last year? Yes, I think so.
- Will Luongo have as good a year as last year? I can’t see why not.
Plenty of pundits point out that the Canucks haven’t added any legitimate scoring threats. They’re right. But here’s what I figure: it’s a long season, and there’s a ton of parity in the Canucks’ division and the league as a whole.
Neither Great Nor Horrible
Given their strong defense, quality coaching and great goaltending, the team is unlikely to stumble badly out of the gate. They’re unlikely to be either great or horrible. GM Dave Nonis has some extra assets at defense, and can convert one of them to a legitimate scorer when he needs to.
I say the team plays decent hockey all season, Nonis adds one or two scorers at the trade deadline, and repeats last year’s achievement. In short, they win one round of playoffs. The teams ahead of them–Detroit, San Jose and Anaheim–are too good to get much farther than that.