But I've come to praise the 'Nucks, not bury those other fakers.
Hope I'm being clear here about my choice.
Faithful followers of the Original 30 know that Vancouver has never won a Cup. They made it to the finals twice, only to be KO'd in '82 amid the Islander dynasty, then again in '94 when the Rangers snapped their 40-year championship disengagement. Perhaps you heard about the latter?
Blueshirt fans are still talking about it Manhattan as if it happened yesterday, despite the fact that their current drought is approaching the halfway point of their last, shall we say, dry spell.
This year is going to be different for the proud sons of Harold Snepsts. They finished with 100 points last season, good for the Northwest Division title and the No. 3 seed in the West. Despite falling apart in Round 2 of the playoffs against the ’Hawks, this season, their 39th in the NHL, will be the charm.
The key to it all, of course, is Roberto Luongo, who is among the game's elite netminders and the early favorite to be Team Canada's starting stopper when the Olympics are staged in Vancouver in February. Luongo, 30, recently signed a 12-year contract extension, which just about guarantees Vancouver a spot in the playoffs for at least another 10 of those 12 years. He is that good. His resume doesn't prove it, but only because he spent his first six seasons with the Islanders and Panthers, sort of the Attica and Alcatraz of the NHL (with all due respect to Glendale, Ariz., of course).
Ex-agent Mike Gillis, now entering his second season as the Canucks GM, did a superb job of securing the franchise's roster assets over the summer, not only tying up Luongo, but also the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel. The star Swedish forwards signed on for another half-dozen seasons, despite the efforts of their former general manager, Brian Burke, to woo them to his new club in Toronto. Gillis, a former first-round draft pick (Colorado, No. 5, 1978) was quick to strike, flashing speed that he never showed during his brief time as NHL left winger.
For the most part, as Luongo and the Sedins go, so will go the Canucks.
But there's more to Team Orca that just those three. The shutdown defensive pairing of Sami Salo and Willie Mitchell is among the league's best, and Gillis over the summer added veteran backline wizard Mathieu Schneider for increased back-end mobility and scoring pop. A very nice pickup, especially at a cap-friendly price tag of $1.55 million. The defense corps also has ample muscle in the likes of tough guy Kevin Bieksa.
The 'Nucks' shortcoming for years has been the lack of scoring pop from the forwards, even as the Sedins were emerging as two of the game's offensive stars. Then last season, en route to the club's fourth 100-point season in six years, young forwards Mason Raymond, Steve Bernier, Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler all submitted career seasons under the tutelage of coach Alain Vigneault.
It's no longer a one-dimensional or one-line offense, as it was not long ago when Anson Carter was the best winger they could find to ride with the Sedins. In the offsesaon, as a booster shot for the brothers, Gillis also added free agent Mikael Samuelsson, the sturdy right winger who pocketed one Cup during his four-year stay in Detroit. The Canucks now can attack two and three lines deep, and if they're drawn into a game of trading chances, they have a steady defense and the stopper to mitigate the damage.
With a bounce here or there, your faithful puck chronicler would be delivering this year's prediction while riding the high of going a perfect 3-for-3 over the last three years of prognostications. I picked the Ducks to win prior to 2006-'07, and then the Wings prior to 2007-'08. This time last year, I picked the Wings again, and was still feeling good about the choice prior to puck drop in Game 7, Penguins vs. Wings, at Joe Louis Arena. Hey, I got cocky. But what's the fortune-telling biz without an ounce of humility now and then?
PHT: Henrik Lundqvist had to stand on his head in Game 1 just to keep the Rangers in the game vs. the Bruins, which they eventually lost in OT. Will Game 2 be any different?
Video: NHL from NBC Sports
Highlights: Sharks take critical Game 3 in OT
Logan Couture scored a power-play goal 1:29 into overtime to help the San Jose Sharks bounce back from two losses in Los Angeles to beat the Kings 2-1 in Game 3 of their second-round series on Saturday night
Check out photos from the Kings' Stanley Cup victory parade in LA.
Stanley Cup playoffs
Check out photos from the NHL postseason action.
Stanley Cup winners
A look at the teams that have earned the right to hoist Lord Stanley's prize since 1965.
Some of Hollywood's hottest celebrities take in NHL games.
Check out the ice girls from around the National Hockey League.