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1. October. After advancing to the Cup final, are the Canucks ready from the jump? Is there leftover fatigue? And will they need a spec of adversity before kicking into gear? The first month of the season will provide some answers.

2. Ryan Kesler. When will he return from injury, and how much will he be missed? Kesler practised with his teammates Wednesday, but isn't ready to play Thursday in the season opener against Pittsburgh. Vancouver's five-on-five scoring, penalty killing and power play all relied on him last season.

3. Cody Hodgson. He gets his first chance to play in a scoring role while Kesler is shelved, centering the second line. The organization's top prospect has been slow to develop because of injuries, but if Hodgson's skill package comes together this season, than a dangerous offence just got another weapon.

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4. Fourth line. It was a non-factor last season, and that cost the Canucks deep in their playoff run. Maxim Lapierre, Aaron Volpatti and Dale Weise get the first crack at making it relevant in 2011-12. As head coach Alain Vigneault said this week, the fourth line needs an identity.

5. Alexander Edler. With Christian Ehrhoff gone, it's his turn to become Vancouver's No. 1 defenceman. Or, at the very least, it's his turn to be a primary shooter/distributor on the power play. The Canucks are convinced that one day, Edler's potential will blossom into all-star status. Has the time arrived?

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About the Author
B.C. sports correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Matthew spearheads the Globe's sports coverage in B.C., and spends most of his time with the NHL Canucks and CFL Lions. He has worked for four dailies and TSN since graduating from Carleton University's School of Journalism a decade ago, and has covered the Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Grey Cups, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals. More

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