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Netcrashing: Who needs to step up for the Canucks win it all?

TSN.ca Staff

5/30/2011 6:32:50 PM

There is no doubt that the collective efforts of the Vancouver Canucks have them just four wins away from bringing the Stanley Cup back to Canada and winning the franchise's first title. But there have been individual standouts along the way.

As we head into the Stanley Cup Final, which Canucks' player needs to step up for the Canucks win it all?

Against Chicago in the opening round, Daniel Sedin did most of the heavy lifting early in building a 3-0 series lead. But, as he faded and the Blackhawks came on to tie the series, it was left to an Alex Burrows OT winner in Game 7 to move on.

In that critical Game 7, it was widely regarded that Ryan Kesler brought the best effort and energy of any Canuck to steer the team to the winning side of that pressure-packed tilt.

And Kesler carried that momentum into the next round against the Nashville Predators. With Henrik Sedin apparently battling some sort of physical ailment that hampered both he and his brother's productivity, Kesler delivered.

He poured in 11 points in six games, single-handedly lifting Vancouver to the Conference Final, and putting his name into the running for Conn Smythe Trophy.

Vancouver had a five-day break before getting San Jose, and that time off seemed to help Henrik Sedin, as he started producing at the type of clip that earned him a scoring title and league MVP a year ago. He finished the series with 12 points. His brother Daniel was a benefactor as well, as he got back on track with six points in the five games.

And that came just at the right time, as Kesler's production tailed off to the tune of three points in five games.

One of the players that emerged in the final few games of the Western Conference Final to solidify his best playoff run ever was Roberto Luongo.

The oft-criticized goalie put together his best performance in the clinching game against the Sharks, as San Jose controlled play for long stretches of the game, and outshot Vancouver by close to a 2-to-1 margin.

But Luongo delivered a 54-save effort, and held the fort long enough for Kevin Bieksa to score the series-clinching winner in double overtime. Having said that, Bieksa has become a big-time player for the Canucks this spring as well.

Among some other candidates, head coach Alian Vigneault will have to play a major role if the Canucks can find a way to beat the Bruins and Manny Malhotra has been cleared to return and could provide an emotional spark as well as that shutdown centre that is so important at this time of year.

So, as the Canucks head into the Stanley Cup Final, who will have to lead the way to victory?

We've mentioned Kesler, the Sedins, Luongo, Bieksa, Malhotra and Vigneault. Could there be another player that might emerge and be the difference maker as well?

It's Your! Call.