2013 NHL Playoffs: 5 Key Players for the Vancouver Canucks

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Vancouver Canucks Begin Stanley Cup Playoff Run

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Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks will go into the playoffs as the third seed in the Western Conference. Vancouver will face the sixth-seeded San Jose Sharks in the first round and you would think they would be the favorites, but the teams are really on the same level. Only two points separated the two in the final standings and the Sharks won all three games the teams played this season.

The Canucks have a big problem coming into the postseason because goalie Cory Schneider is out for at least the first game with what the team calls a body injury. Schneider said he was good enough to go, but he won't even be on the bench for the opener. They do have a well-known backup, Roberto Luongo, but there was a reason Schneider was No. 1. You have to wonder if this drama with the goalie situation will come back to hurt the Canucks in the long run.

I see this first series for the Canucks going seven games. They will need to pick which goalie they want to go with and stick with him. In my opinion, it is never a good situation when you know that one bad period could mean you are getting yanked out of the goal. If the Canucks fail to get out of the first round for the second season in a row, it will likely be blamed on the goaltender decision and it will be curtains for coach Alain Vigneault.

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5. Derek Roy

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Roy was an acquisition at the trade deadline that hasn't quite panned out as well as the Canucks had hoped. Of course, if he makes his mark on these playoffs, he could become a hero in Vancouver.

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4. Daniel Sedin

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The man who was second on the team in points needs to stay healthy. Last year he played in just two games in the playoffs. His point per game have been slipping the last few seasons and it may be now or never for him and his twin brother.

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3. Ryan Kesler

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Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Kesler missed more than half of the regular season with shoulder and wrist injuries. He seems to be healthy now and should also be well-rested, so he can be the pest that he often is and get under the skin of the opponent.

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2. Henrik Sedin

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Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Henrik was the Canucks' leading scorer in the regular season. He has to realize that at the age of 32, his chances at being a huge part of a Stanley Cup champion are running low.

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1. Roberto Luongo

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Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The goaltender is often the most important position in a playoff run, and it has been a mess for the Canucks all season. Luongo gets the call in game one and who knows which way the team will go after that. In a series that is as close as this opening round matchup, every game is crucial — so Luongo will need to step up.

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