Hodgemail: Make your case for the Vancouver Canucks Staff
3/24/2010 11:57:54 PM
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TSN's Dave Hodge sounds off on all the hockey issues of the day in a segment this season called Hodgemail. 

On paper, the Vancouver Canucks appear to be the best shot for a Canadian NHL team to hoist the Stanley Cup this spring. And you don't have to sell that to Canuck fans who haven't seen their team win a championship since entering the league in 1970 and haven't cheered for them in a final since 1994.

With a handful of games left to play in the regular season, the elements appear to be in place for a contender. They sit comfortably in first place in the Northwest Division and are seven points out of first in the West. They are the among the highest scoring teams in the NHL, have a solid defence and boast one of the league's best home records.

But are they the real deal?

Even scoring has always been a trademark of recent Stanley Cup contenders and there's no shortage of that. Daniel Sedin scored his 20th goal of the season against the Red Wings on Saturday to give Vancouver six 20-goal scorers on the season, the first time the club has reached that mark since 1993.

Overshadowed by all the scoring is the fact that they've played long stretches without the services of two of their top defencemen in Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa. Blueliners Christian Ehrhoff, Sami Salo and Alex Edler have picked up the slack in their absence and having Bieksa back now will certainly help for a long playoff run.

In goal, netminder Roberto Luongo has struggled since backstopping Canada to an Olympic gold medal but in those rare occasions, backup Andrew Raycroft has played well and has given the Canucks a chance to win. But the bottom line is that the Canucks need Luongo - one of the league's best netminders - back on top of his game.

With solid goaltending, scoring depth and enough offence and mobility on the back end, there are plenty of reasons for Canucks fans to be optimistic heading into the playoffs. No one is ever a shoe-in to win the Stanley Cup, but the Canucks possess that potential.

So here was Dave's question to you: ''What is the No. 1 reason the Vancouver Canucks will, or will not, win the Stanley Cup?''

And here are the answers that Dave liked best:

''The Canucks will never win the Stanley Cup. They're one of those franchises like the Clippers in basketball and the Bengals in football. 40 years of nothing and 40 more coming.''  Mark - Vancouver

''If what I saw from the Sedins in their Swedish uniforms was an indication of what they'll do under playoff pressure, there will be no parade in Van-city.'' Derek - Truro, NS

''Vancouver has secondary scoring, leadership, defensive depth and an elite goalie. No other team is as well-rounded.'' Mike - Lethbridge, AB

''The reason the Canucks will not win is the inconsistent Roberto Luongo. It's a good thing Vancouver has Stanley Park because it won't have the Stanley Cup.'' Rob - Vancouver

''It would be silly to think that Luongo will not be able to lift his game in time for the playoffs, especially because this is the first time he doesn't have to steal games for the Canucks to win.'' Jeremy - Vancouver

And Dave's Reply To All:

So the answer to this question is: Roberto Luongo. He's the number one reason the Canucks will win the Stanley Cup, and he's the number one reason the Canucks will not win the Stanley Cup. And maybe that rules him out of both sides of the argument and makes him the x-factor. Otherwise, here's the case for the Canucks. In every series they play, never mind the opponent, the Canucks will have the edge in all, or some, or at least one, of the following categories - offence, defence, power-play and home ice record. The irony is that goaltending should be on that list as well.

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