Friday, January 6, 2012

Tough Enough?

The immement clashing of the Bruins and the Canucks in a rematch of last years' seven-game final series has clearly brought back memmories of the bitter feud.  Mark Recchi feels the need to reiterate the fact that he hates the Canucks.  The Bruins have warmed up for this battle by routing two other teams, a la Game 3.  And we are all forced to hear the resonating cry that the Bruins literally bullied their way to the cup win last year.

Blogs, newspapers, the air waves and every media outlet within driving distance of Vancouver is a resounding gong of discontent with the Canucks level of toughness.  Everybody remembers Mike Gillis' defense of the Canucks' structure and style.  We all remember how he claimed he wouldn't tailor the roster to suit a matchup against any other team, and he's a man of his word.  If anything, this year's rendition of the Vancouver Canucks is even softer than last.  Somehow, the hockey-mad market of Vancouver has got it in their minds that they need to become tougher to win the cup, but does that make any sense?

Sure, it worked for the Bruins and Ducks in recent years, but the Wings, Pens and Hawks weren't exactly the second coming of the Broad Street Bullies.  If the Canucks are going to win then they have to play their game, and it's a puck-possession, skill battle, and they've improved their depth of skill.  Janik Hansen is the second leading scorer on the team, no longer just a third line checker.  They've brought in David Booth, who to his credit finishes a lot more checks than most people realize.  Cody Hodgson has matured in to a top six forward, despite his third line (barely) minutes.  The third line, formerly anchored by the defensive-specialist Manny Malhotra, Hansen and the one they called 'Tico', Raffi Torres.  In its place is the patient puck wizard Hodgson, his new found chemistry with the Honey Badger, Janik Hansen, and when Booth is healthy, it's likely he'll round out the trio. 

This has pushed Malhotra back to the fourth line, and Dale Weise, who has been playing up and down the roster will likely join him and Max Lapierre.  Aaron Volpatti stole Victor Orescovich's job on the fourth line, and he's now injured while Orescovich toils in the minors.  The Canucks are far better positioned to get deeper at what they already excel at than to sacrifice offensive depth for the sakeof adding a few plugs.

Besides, the reality is that the Canucks don't need to get tougher to win one more playoff game this year, they just need to be more durable, and with the depth they've added they're definitely on track to do so.

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