(Stick tap to the good folks at Nucks Misconduct for providing some insight. Remember, if you're going to go over there and talk shit, be a good SB Nation citizen and do it with a sense of humor. When in doubt, go by the Wil Wheaton rule of Don't Be A Dick.)
With so many injuries and weird experiments (Keith Ballard wasn't quite as successful at forward as Brent Burns), the Vancouver Canucks saw a bunch of different lineup permutations as the season hurtled to a close. The most notable returns were Ryan Kesler, the finest American playing in Vancouver, and Derek Roy, the trade deadline acquisition from the Dallas Stars. Both prove to be key contributors in the top-nine forward group and both power play units, at least on paper. Whether or not they provide that remains to be seen.
Here are your projected lines as we start the series.
Line 1: Alexandre Burrows, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin
Line 2: Chris Higgins, Ryan Kesler, Zack Kassian
Line 3: Mason Raymond, Derek Roy, Jannik Hansen
Line 4: Andrew Ebbett, Maxim Lapierre, Dale Weise
We all know what the first line is about -- Burrows is the agitator and the Sedins, well, they're the Sedins. They're kind of creepy and really good, though this year has been a down year for both of them.
Lines 2 and 3 are where it gets interesting. Kesler's had a few weeks to get his legs under him but, and the decision to put Derek Roy on the third line could provide a similar effect to Todd McLellan sticking Joe Pavelski on the third line. In the playoffs, you'll never have enough scoring depth. The interesting wrinkle to this is that Roy did his best work with Higgins, though the current practice lines have them split apart. However, like the Sharks, there are a number of potential power play combinations based on who's going and who's not.
Pair 1: Jason Garrison, Dan Hamhuis
Pair 2: Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa
Pair 3: Andrew Alberts, Frank Corrado
There's all sorts of burning questions here, such as "How healthy is Kevin Bieksa?" and "Who the hell is Frank Corrado?" (hint: he's not the original owner of that cross Indiana Jones was chasing at the beginning of The Last Crusade). Garrison and Hamhuis could be considered the dynamic duo of overpayment, though Hamhuis is a solid shut-down defenseman while Garrison has a canon of a shot, though Canucks fans have to be disappointed with his output so far.
A significant part of the matchups may come down to the Edler/Bieksa pair -- more specifically, Bieksa's health. Bieksa came back in the season finale against Edmonton, but it remains to be seen how his conditioning and timing are. Of course, Sharks fans know Bieksa as the man responsible for Canuck Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom God Damn Goal, so here's hoping the hockey gods sprinkle karma on the Sharks. It'd be more than fitting if a Dan Boyle shot got tipped by Patrick Marleau, then hit Bieksa in the balls before trickling into the net.
1A: Cory Schneider
1B: Roberto Luongo
We know the story here -- Luongo has a contract that lasts until Charlton Heston gets overdramatic on a beach. Schneider start 30 of the 48 games this year and his overall numbers are much better than Luongo's. However, played the last two games of the season with Schneider sitting out due to injury. Schneider has been practicing again and despite a little bit of smoke and mirrors, he should be the starter for Game 1. Should Schneider have a collapse, don't be surprised if Luongo is given a chance to run with it; in the meantime, by all reports Luongo has been a good teammate regardless of the situation and in all circumstances a much better backup than many of the alternatives.