COACH Alain Vigneault (6th season)
LAST SEASON 54-19-9 (1st in West); lost in Stanley Cup finals to Bruins
KEY ADDITIONS LW Marco Sturm
KEY LOSSES D Christian Ehrhoff, LW Tanner Glass, LW Raffi Torres
FORWARD RYAN KESLER chooses to remember the quick recovery rather than the carnage. A day after the Vancouver riots that followed the Canucks' Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup finals, Kesler saw hundreds of citizens on the streets, sweeping, cleaning, trying to make the city whole again. "The response of our real fans was great," Kesler says.
Now it's up to the Canucks to rebound from the on-ice disaster that ended their season. Until the finals, they were the NHL's best team: Their 117 regular-season points were 10 more than anyone else, and they led the league in goals scored (258), fewest allowed (180) and power-play efficiency (24.3%) and had the best penalty kill (85.6%) in the West. Left wing Daniel Sedin won the scoring title with 104 points and led with 18 power-play goals, while his twin brother, center Henrik, had the most assists (75).
All that firepower disappeared in June, when the Canucks squeaked out three one-goal victories against Boston but were stomped, 21--3, in their four losses. "It was the best season this organization has ever had," says Kesler, "but Game 7 is going to be with me."
But the franchise's first championship is still within reach. Unlike the Blackhawks of 2010, Vancouver didn't need to upend its roster to stay under the salary cap. The team did trade Christian Ehrhoff, its top-scoring defenseman, and lose a handful of third- and fourth-liners, but the team that dominated last season is otherwise intact.