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Posted On Thursday, 04.21.2011 / 4:30 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Cooking up the pressure on Canucks

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Blackhawks insist that nothing is different about their predicament save for the confidence they now have after putting up a seven-spot on Vancouver in Game 4.

Pressure?

Please, that's all on the Canucks right now.

"We're the ones that were down 3-0 and just kind of squeaked into the playoffs, so I don't think anybody has really put pressure on us to win a series let alone with the Stanley Cup," Patrick Kane said Thursday morning. "We'll see what happens, but whether it's the media, the fans in Vancouver or just the city in general, a lot of pressure is on the Canucks tonight, for them to close it out here at home in Game 5."

It's a believable argument, one the Blackhawks plan to use to their advantage.

They played a pressure-free game on Tuesday and it worked. Why not just do it again?

"We're just taking trying to stay alive obviously, but the way we played and being able to score the amount of goals we did in the last game gave us confidence that we can come in here and put some pressure on the Canucks and see what happens," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "Obviously there is pressure on them. They want to win here at home and we'll give our best effort to stop that."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.21.2011 / 4:22 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Power play discrepancy bothers Canucks

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- After four games the Canucks are wondering if the officials are being harsher on them than the Blackhawks.

Vancouver has been awarded only 10 power plays in the series while Chicago has been given 19. The Blackhawks had 14 power plays in the two games at United Center while the Canucks had only six.

The penalty minutes are skewed due to the four 10-minute misconducts the Canucks took in Tuesday's 7-2 loss, but the Canucks still have 87 compared to the Blackhawks' 51.

Both Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler were asked what more the Canucks can do to draw more power play opportunities?

"I honestly don't know," Sedin said. "I don't think we can do much more. We're skating well, moving our feet and it's just a matter of getting those calls."

Kesler was similarly miffed.

"Good question," he said. "I don't know. I can't answer that. I don't know."

It should be noted that the Blackhawks had five power plays and the Canucks' 57 penalty minutes in the third period of Game 4, which was a blowout after 40 minutes. Vancouver's parade to the penalty box, including four 10-minute misconducts, was more a result of the score than anything else.

Still, they gave up a pair of power play goals in the period and have yielded four in the series.

"We need to stay out of the box," Sedin said. "They have a good power play so that is going to be key tonight. The crowd is going to be into it so we have to stay calm, play relaxed and have fun out there."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.19.2011 / 2:15 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Toews staying loose with pressure off

CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews was smiling Tuesday morning, even cracking a small laugh at one point.

You'd think being in a 0-3 hole against the Canucks and facing elimination in Game 4 Tuesday night at United Center would have the Blackhawks leader, known in these circles as 'Captain Serious' in a sour mood -- but that clearly was not the case.

He was as loose as I've seen him in the series, maybe as loose as I've seen him since spending two summer days with him in his hometown of Winnipeg during his Stanley Cup celebration.

"You've gotta be (loose), I guess," Toews told NHL.com. "What are you going to do? Just go out there and play your best hockey tonight and you've got nothing to lose. Just do your best, nothing more to say."

Toews expects the Blackhawks to follow his lead and play a pressure-free game.

"That's what we're going to do," he said. "We can play loose. We're not feeling sorry for ourselves. We're going to go out there and play. We're men. We're professionals in here and we care about each other in the locker room. From Day One every guy, we've all gotten along, we all like each other, and when you think about it that way it makes you want to go play harder for each other. We've got a lot of pride in this locker room and we know that's a good team across the way there. We've just got to find a way to win one."

Toews compared the Blackhawks situation to the predicament Philadelphia was in down 0-3 against Boston last season. The Flyers came back to win the series, becoming just the third team in NHL history to do it.

"The way they got into the playoffs, they're kind of like us with the last day of the year," Toews said. "That's our dream right now, is to win tonight and we'll go from there."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.19.2011 / 11:25 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

One more chance to fix the problem

CHICAGO -- Third periods have been an issue for the Chicago Blackhawks all season long and nothing has changed in this series against the Canucks.

The Blackhawks and Canucks each have two goals in the third period through three games, but the Canucks were able to hold the Blackhawks back in Game 1 and outscore them in Game 3. The Hawks needed to play their best period of the series in the third period of Game 3, but they wound up playing one of their worst.

They were 0-for-2 on the power play and managed only seven shots on goal. Mikael Samuelsson scored a goal off a rebound from the slot 6:54 into the period and that was enough for the Canucks to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

"It was 2-2 going into the third and we've got to fight to get that goal," Patrick Sharp said. "Giving one up and chasing from behind is not the answer we're looking for. Every game presents different situations, but we'd like to be better in the third period, that's for sure."

Fourteen times this season the Blackhawks entered the third period tied or with a lead only to come away with no points. If they forced even half of those games into overtime, they would have at least opened the playoffs at home as the fourth seed.

The Hawks are still searching for answers for their third period woes.

"If I knew we would have found a solution to that already," captain Jonathan Toews said. "It's just been a re-occurring theme where maybe it's something that snowballs on us, we put added pressure on ourselves to make plays and we end up making mistakes off of them."

Patrick Kane said the Blackhawks sometimes fall into the habit of feeling good after the second period.

"And we start playing a little bit differently (in the third) to kind of force and get another goal," he said, "But, I think the biggest part of our game that we want to get going is to play a full 60 minutes and keep it the same way. If we play like we did in the first period (Sunday) throughout the whole night we should be successful."

Toews said the Hawks can't be worried about the trends that have dogged them all season. Not now at least.

"We've got one more game to go out there and play our best hockey, keep ourselves alive in this series," Toews said. "We can't be focused on things like that."

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Posted On Monday, 04.18.2011 / 12:47 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Canucks won't change on our account

CHICAGO -- We in the media might call the answers boring, perhaps unworthy for our valuable (at least that's what we think) notebooks and recorders.

That doesn't mean the Vancouver Canucks are going to stop giving us those one-shift-at-a-time, one-day-at-a-time, one-win-at-a-time quotes following every media availability, be it after a practice or a game.

After being with the Canucks for five days and three playoff games, I've begun to think that they actually believe what they're saying, that these unhelpful answers actually mean something to this team and are not used as answers to questions they just don't want to deal with.

"The only position we're in is that we're going to get ready for our next game," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said following Sunday's 3-2 win at United Center. "We've taken it all year long on a one-game basis. We're playing a great hockey team, the Stanley Cup champions. We're going to practice (Monday) and get ready for the next game."

Maybe it's a sports psychology thing -- I don't know -- but the fact is that the Canucks don't just preach this stuff, they act on it. They really do live in the moment and refuse to think about anything else, past or future.

What happened last season against Chicago? Please, not an issue or a concern.

What they did in Games 1 and 2 at home? History that doesn't matter now.

What could potentially happen Tuesday in Game 4 now that they have a 3-0 lead in the series? Let's just wait until we get to Tuesday, OK.

"I think they've got some great guys over there -- they're battlers and they're going to battle to the end," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "The players they have, their winners. It's going to be a tough battle here come next game."

That's the other thing about the Canucks -- they do not hesitate to heap praise on the Blackhawks, calling them the champs and a great team with every opportunity they get.

Not once have the Canucks given Chicago any fuel with an off-color or controversial comment. With no ammo, the Hawks haven't been able to fire back, either with their words in the dressing room or with their play on the ice.

"We've got one more to go and we know it's going to be a tough one, the hardest one so far," Roberto Luongo said, preaching the company line. "These guys are the Stanley Cup champions and they're definitely not going to quit. It's going to be even harder on Tuesday and we've got to be ready."

They will be. They just won't tell you how they do it.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 2:33 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Canucks ready to deal with Scott

CHICAGO -- Finding out that Chicago will use John Scott in Game 3 raised more than just a few eyebrows inside Vancouver's dressing room.

"It's interesting," Canucks forward Tanner Glass said. "I'm sure they think he's going to bring something to the lineup that may have been lacking. It's a different look, but we're focused on what we do in here and our process."

Kevin Bieksa chirped Scott a little when he said that the best way to beat him is to just skate around him and score a goal.

"When a guy 6-8 challenges you, (a guy) that can't skate? Well, usually you say 'No,' and then you go around him and score," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "That's what usually you do. There are other 6-8 guys in the League. Why doesn't he go challenge those guys to fight?"

Bieksa also said the Canucks won't change a thing despite knowing Scott will play.

"We're going to be physical regardless," he said. "Our whole gameplan is to initiate, not retaliate. We've done a good job of it so far and I don't see it changing tonight."

None of the Canucks plan on fighting Scott.

"I remember him fighting Alex Bolduc," Glass said, "and it didn't end so well for Alex."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.16.2011 / 2:38 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Leading the way

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- It's pretty obvious how valuable playing with the lead has been so far in this series.

Vancouver has gotten it twice and failed to give it up either time. The Blackhawks offered only about 10-12 minutes of pushback in Game 1, but they were fighting back at every turn in Game 2 only to have the Canucks steal momentum right back.

"It shows you have to be focused for 60 minutes," Henrik Sedin said.

Sure it does, but it also shows the Blackhawks haven't been. They talked a great deal after Game 1 about matching Vancouver's intensity and urgency early in Game 2, but it didn't happen.

The Canucks had a goal before the Blackhawks had a shot on goal. It was 2-0 just 30 seconds into the second period.

Chicago outscored Vancouver, 3-2, over the final 39 minutes and 30 seconds, but they could never make up for those first two goals.

"Pretty much the same thing, too little too late," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "You see we start playing with desperation and we start playing the way we can at the end of the game. We get chances and pressure on them, but it's not good enough. We have to find a way to get that intensity and that urgency to our game early on.

"Sometimes it's not always about playing with the lead," he added. "It's not going to be a perfect game, especially on the road. We just kept giving them consistent scoring chances and let them run away with the game. Every time you get a goal and try to come back, you pull within one, you get momentum and we just found ways to give it back to them."

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Posted On Friday, 04.15.2011 / 4:25 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Hodgson skates, Torres not so much

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Cody Hodgson said Wednesday that he doesn't usually take part in optional morning skates out of personal preference, but there he was on the ice Friday morning getting ready with many of his Vancouver teammates in what was yet another optional skate.

Why the change? Did a veteran deliver him a message that rookies don't have the option?

"No, no, I already talked to a bunch of the guys and they were fine with it (Wednesday)," the Canucks' 21-year-old rookie center told NHL.com. "It was just a personal feeling (Friday). I got some new sticks in and I was trying them out. Just a feeling, that's all."

Suspended Canucks forward Raffi Torres had a different feeling Friday morning, one he'd probably like to get over in a hurry.

Torres, who has one more game left on his four-game suspension for elbowing Edmonton's Jordan Eberle in the head, was not on the ice with his teammates Friday morning because he was home battling a case of food poisoning, according to Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault.

"Once it's all out he'll be back," Vigneault said to a chorus of laughter. "So, I expect him back (Saturday)...unless it's not all out, but I figure it will be."

If it is, the question will be if Torres is going to get back in the lineup for Game 3 Sunday?

That answer may become obvious after Game 2. But, then again, maybe it won't.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 4:27 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Roll 'em out

VANCOUVER -- The Canucks have talked a great deal about their depth, both up front and in the back, early in this series.

Now we know why.

Vancouver won Game 1 over the Blackhawks, 2-0, despite not getting a point from either Sedin twin or Alexandre Burrows. They won Game 1 despite having only one guy play more than 22 and a half minutes, and Dan Hamhuis topped that mark by one second. They won with only one forward, Ryan Kesler, playing more than 20 minutes.

The Canucks' depth was on display Wednesday as they rolled their four lines and three defensive pairs out onto the ice like clockwork. The Blackhawks never took Vancouver out of its gameplan.

"It keeps your minutes down, you stay fresh and for us that's important," Kesler said of what rolling the lines does for Vancouver. "We want to play a high energy, high-paced game. We want to hit a lot and you need all four lines if you're going to do that."

Vancouver hit a whole heck of a lot Wednesday. The Canucks were credited with 47 hits, which is 26 more than they averaged per game during the regular season.

Their bottom six forwards combined for 23 hits and a goal, giving more credibility to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault's plan to just roll out the lines and let 'em go instead of worrying too much about matchups.

He said the only matchup he tried to get at times was Kesler's line on the Hawks' top trio of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane. But, Vigneault said he tried that only about 75 percent of the time.

"I would say right now we're more interested in having a good pace on the ice, a fast pace than looking for really certain matchups," Vigneault said. "We think one of our ingredients that has enabled us to have some success this year has been able to roll the four lines at a quick pace and roll the six Ds. that has enabled us to go north-south real quick and spend more time in the other team's end."

"It's a long series and we're trying to wear them down," added Kesler. "Not intimidate them, but to know that every time we have a chance to hit them we're going to hit them. I think that goes a long way in a series."

Depth certainly does.

Depth allows the Canucks to keep their shifts short. For instance, Henrik Sedin played 28 shifts, but only 17:11 of ice time for an average shift length of 36 seconds. Daniel Sedin played the same 28 shifts for 16:35 of ice time, averaging 35 seconds per shift.

Vigneault said the shifts matter, not the ice time, and the Sedins were able to play "real short and hard" shifts, which is exactly what the Canucks wanted.

"If you can only play your top guys 18 minutes a night than they are going to be pretty fresh and play pretty hard instead of guys playing 23, 24 or 25 minutes," Higgins said. "It'll pay off down the road."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 2:21 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Hawks have to show more snarl

VANCOUVER -- The Blackhawks were getting close to getting run out of the building, to being embarrassed Wednesday night. They were already down 2-0 and they were just getting manhandled by a Canucks' team that decided Wednesday was the night it was going to throw its weight around, be as physical as possible to stun the Hawks.

Chicago addressed the need to pushback in between the first and second periods and did a fine job of it, creating chances with a strong forecheck that led to a puck possession game in the second.

It wasn't enough, and from now until Friday the Blackhawks are going to be thinking about how much better they have to be in the first period to beat the Canucks because the first 20 minutes essentially cost them Game 1.

"It's definitely something we need to respond to," captain Jonathan Toews said of the physical play. "We can't just lie around and take that. I think throughout the game we weren't moving our feet enough and we make ourselves easy targets for those checks. When we're putting pucks behind them and getting after it we can make them more afraid to go near the puck, especially in their zone. We didn't do that enough tonight. We didn't play hard enough in the corners or in front of the net. And, we didn't get the result we wanted."

The Blackhawks were outhit, 20-9, in the first period. They were outhit, 47-21, for the game.

The 47 hits were 26 more than the Canucks' regular season average.

"Physicality was probably the big difference tonight," Patrick Kane said. "Not that it really affected us, but at the same time we've got to be more physical on them, make sure it's not as easy on their top players. You can't go out of your way to make a stupid penalty to hit someone, but if the hit is there, a lot of our guys in here have to make that hit."

Kane and the rest of the Blackhawks wouldn't say they were surprised at how the Canucks came out and bashed them early even though that is not Vancouver's style, but they certainly looked stunned. Chicago didn't answer until the game was 20 minutes over and Vancouver had enough goals to ride a hot goalie to the finish line.

"They came at us in waves," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We needed more urgency right off the bat. The pace is not the regular season pace. We have to respond with a better start. They came out banging and we didn't reciprocate."

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Quote of the Day

I feel that responsibility, I've felt it for the last two years. We core guys get a lot of minutes, we get a lot of opportunity out there. Our teammates, the organization and fans look to us to be the guys to put the puck in the net and to create momentum out there.

— Jordan Eberle on taking his game and the Edmonton Oilers to the next level