Don’t count Theo Fleury amongst those who think the Vancouver Canucks are favourites in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
In an interview with Sportsnet Radio FAN 960 in Calgary, Fleury claimed that the Canucks would be eliminated in the first round, regardless of their opponent.
“I’m going to go out on a limb here and I’m going to say that the Vancouver Canucks will not make it out of the first round… no matter who they play,” said the longtime Flames forward.
During the interview, Fleury said he had little confidence in Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who has struggled to live up to the billing in previous playoff runs.
“Luongo hasn’t proved to me that he’s a top-flight goalie because he’s great in the regular season but he’s had a couple series’ against the Chicago Blackhawks where he’s laid a golden egg when his team could’ve went to the Stanley Cup finals.”
Fleury believes the Canucks, who sit first overall in the standings, will be coasting into the playoffs and will become too comfortable over the final eight games of the season.
“Most teams that finish first overall in the NHL have not gone on to have a whole lot of success,” Fleury said. “It’s usually that team that’s fighting tooth and nail to get into that eighth spot and once they get to the playoffs, they’re flying high and feeling really good about themselves.”
Fleury, who played on the last Canadian NHL team to win the President’s Trophy and Stanley Cup in the same season, referenced the Flames’ teams from the early 1990s that struggled to get out of the first round of the playoffs after winning the Cup in 1989.
“For the next seven or eight years, we finished first in Calgary and just couldn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs,” Fleury said.
While Fleury may not be sold on the Canucks’ playoff chances, he is a strong believer in the quality of the Sedin brothers, Daniel and Henrik.
“I got to play against them in Vancouver during my comeback. I played a couple of shifts against them and I was just blown away at their skill level and they just know where each other is on the ice. They’re fun to watch and I enjoy watching them play.
“There’s a reason why they’re 1-2 in scoring. They just continue to get better and they’re going to need their best playoff performance in order for Vancouver to get out of the first round of the playoff,” Fleury said.