With two games left in the regular season, the 2009-10 Vancouver Canucks have clinched the Northwest Division title (and third place in the Western Conference playoff standings) and reached the 100-point plateau for just the sixth time in 40 seasons. It is safe to say that this is one of the better Canuck squads in team history.
But just how good are they when we compare them to Canucks teams of the past? Could this, in fact, be the best edition ever?
To answer this question, we first need to identify who the other potential best teams are:
- The 2006-07 Vancouver Canucks have the highest point total in team history — 105 — which may yet be matched by this year’s team, but only if they win their final two games. Backstopped by a brilliant Roberto Luongo in his first season in Vancouver, this season saw the emergence of the Sedin twins as the team’s leading scorers.
Photo credit: davidgsteadman/Flickr
- The 2002-03 Canucks finished with 104 points, losing the Northwest Division title by a single point. The famed West Coast Express line of Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, and Brendan Morrison had its best year in 2002-03.
Photo credit: Mister Leung/Wikimedia Commons
- The 1992-93 Canucks, led by the Russian Rocket, Pavel Bure, had 101 points to win the Smythe (remember that name?) Division title. Bure would finish the season with 60 goals and 110 points, both team records to this day.
Photo credit: Håkan Dahlström/Flickr
Edge: 2009-10. Yes, the 1992-93 Canucks scored 346 goals — the most by any Canuck team by a country mile — but that was only good enough for fourth place in the league. The current edition, in comparison, has only 260 goals through 79 games, but in today’s NHL that’s good for second overall.
Edge: 1992-93. This one comes down to the ’92-93 team vs. the ’06-07 team, both of which were tied for fifth overall in fewest goals allowed in their respective seasons. But while the ’06-07 team played in front of a top-notch Roberto Luongo, the ’92-93 D-corps was just a solid crew, featuring the likes of Doug Lidster, Jyrki Lumme, Gerald Diduck, and Dave Babych.
Edge: 2006-07. No contest here as a healthy, focused Roberto Luongo is the best goaltender the Canucks have ever had. Today’s Canucks would dearly love to see that version of Luongo back with the team in time for the playoffs.
Edge: 1992-93. Alain Vigneault won the Jack Adams Trophy in ’06-07 and is arguably an even better coach today, but Pat Quinn was able to coach Pavel Bure to a +35, Geoff Courtnall to a +27, and Jyrki Lumme to a +30. Not one of these players would again approach such lofty plus/minus ratings.
Edge: To be determined. With none of the three teams of the past able to make it through the second round, the 2009-10 Canucks have a chance to put their stamp on the history of this franchise.
THE WINNER: 1992-93
The 1992-93 version of the Vancouver Canucks had a little bit of everything — the fine coaching of Pat Quinn, the flash and dash of Pavel Bure, hometown heroes like Cliff Ronning, Geoff Courtnall, and Greg Adams, and Trevor Linden just starting to reach his prime. It would be a year later that this squad would reach the Stanley Cup Finals, despite a mediocre regular season.
The 2009-10 Canucks, however, are still one of the better groups to play in Vancouver. No previous edition can match it for its balanced scoring and its tenacity, evidenced by the many come-from-behind wins this year. With a good playoff performance, it may well rise to top of the charts.