TSN's Dave Hodge sounds off on all the hockey issues of the day in a Hodgemail. Write in to answer Dave's weekly question and watch the NHL on TSN's Stanley Cup Playoff Preview tonight to see if he reads your response.
Another year and another chance for the Vancouver Canucks to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
And with Minnesota's win over the Dallas Stars in the last game of the season on Sunday, the Canucks playoff run - no matter how long or short - will be intriguing right from the start. Their first-round opponent is none other than the Chicago Blackhawks - a team that has eliminated them in the previous two post-seasons.
Is this the year Vancouver puts it all together, or are they destined to once again fall short of expectations?
Vancouver's depth and defence looked as strong as it ever has this season, as they overcame several injuries and still captured the President's Trophy. But many of the team's key players are ones that have come up short in past playoffs. Several players - such as Ryan Kesler - have made big jumps in the regular season, but it is yet to be seen whether they can carry that momentum into the post-season.
Another key factor will be goaltending. Some will say that after the regular season Roberto Luongo has had, he seems primed to lead the team deep into the playoffs. Others however, could warn not to get too excited about Luongo's regular season stats, pointing out that he has looked great in regular seasons past, only to underwhelm when the games really matter.
A team with back-to-back Art Ross Trophy winners in Daniel and Henrik Sedin surely has to be considered a playoff favourite, but as Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock recently said, "Until you win the Cup, you haven't won the Cup."
Babcock was referring only to Luongo with that quote, but he could have just as easily been talking about the whole Canuck team.
So here's Dave's question to you: "What is the biggest reason the Canucks will or will not win Canada's first Stanley Cup since 1993?"
Here are some of his favourite responses:
"This time, the Canucks are mature, they're motivated and they will slay the Chicago demon and thus be unstoppable." - Charles, Vancouver
"They'll be so pleased with themselves after beating the Hawks that they'll forget they have to win 12 more games." - Darren, Montreal
"Montreal won a year after hosting the Olympics in 1976. It was the same with Calgary a year following the '88 Winter Games. And you know the rest of the story." - Kyle, Kingston, ON
"It's all about Vancouver's depth—up front, on defense and now, in goal. There isn't another team with such depth." - Adam, Victoria, BC
"Vancouver isn't battle-tested—too much Calgary, Minnesota, Colorado and Edmonton all season." - Steve, Winnipeg
"Biggest reason the Canucks won't win? The refs." - Mat, Vancouver
Reply to All: Ignoring is bliss when predicting
The biggest reason the Canucks "will" win the Stanley Cup? Pick one of these. They won the Presidents' Trophy by a margin of 10 points. They scored the most goals and allowed the fewest. Canucks were the best special teams team. All six defencemen are healthy, finally. Best home record in the league; best road record in the league.
But you knew all of that, and so I'll give you the biggest reason the Canucks will not win the Stanley Cup. Here it is: all of the evidence I have just presented is inadmissible. It is based on regular season facts and figures; it's playoff information we need, and there is none. The key to predicting the playoffs is to ignore everything you've seen for the past six months, and then play a hunch. I have a hunch the Canucks will win, but if that's the best I can do, it's probably the biggest reason somebody else will win.