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Posted On Tuesday, 05.03.2011 / 5:01 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

'Pick your poison' with Datsyuk, Zetterberg

Much of the talk in both locker rooms after Tuesday's practices at Joe Louis Arena centered on whether the Red Wings will split up top-line superstars Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk or keep them together on the first line.

The Sharks said it doesn't really matter to them, because those two in particular are difficult to defend no matter how they're played.

"They're both high-end players and they're going to try and do different things to try to get a win," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. "That might be one of those things that we see. I think we feel pretty confident with the six d-men we have back there that we don't have to overthink the matchups and on the forwards side, same thing. We've got some lines that can handle what they do."

Still, Zetterberg and Datsyuk can cause problems in a hurry if the Sharks don't stay as disciplined as they've been in their own zone for the first two games. That, said San Jose's Douglas Murray, is because the Red Wings' "Big Two" are both gifted with immense hockey intelligence.

"Pick your poison," Murray said. "They're both very skilled players. They might not be very big in stature, but they're strong on pucks and what sets them apart from a lot of people is they're so smart. You can't really defend them the same way all the time, because if you get stuck doing the same thing, they'll find a way to take advantage of it."

The way Murray described what it's like defending them, it sounds similar to the way the guards in the movie "Jurassic Park" tried to cage in the Velociraptors, which kept testing the high-voltage electric fence to see where its weakest points were.

"You almost got to play a little chess game with them, too," Murray said of Zetterberg and Datsyuk. "If you make the first move, they'll counter with something."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.03.2011 / 4:56 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: San Jose-Detroit Live Blog

Sharks haven't forgotten Red Wings' mettle

Don't try to convince Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray that San Jose somehow wants to win worse than the Red Wings.

The Sharks have won 10 of the previous 12 meetings between the teams when you taking into consideration last year's playoff series and regular-season games, not to mention taking the first two games of this series.

Still, all Murray needs to do is look up at the many banners hanging in the rafters at Joe Louis Arena -- 11 of the Stanley Cup variety, four since 1997 -- to counter the Sharks "wanting it" more theory.

"After all their Stanley Cups in the rafters and on that team, I don't think you can question their want or will to go and get more," Murray said. "I think I've mentioned to them at some point, like, 'Well, you're probably getting tired of winning the Cup,' and they say, 'You never get tired of that.' They want it just as much as we do."

So then how does he explain San Jose's recent dominance -- especially the Sharks' ability to win a spate of one-goal nail-biters?

"They had our number for a long time before that and those were tight games then, too," Murray said. "Why did they win all the time? It's tough to explain. You can't say when the teams are so even, 'Oh, that team is much better.' It could be a confidence thing. It could be a swagger thing. I really don't know. I don't have an answer for it … but I hope it keeps going."
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Posted On Monday, 04.25.2011 / 6:23 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Kopecky travels with Blackhawks

CHICAGO – Injured forward Tomas Kopecky traveled with the Chicago Blackhawks to Vancouver on Monday afternoon as the defending Stanley Cup champions prepare to play Tuesday night's Game 7 of a Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Kopecky is "progressing" from an upper-body injury sustained in the first game of the series and the team will know more about his availability to play on Tuesday.

Kopecky, who didn’t score and logged one shot in Game 1, played 81 regular-season games and scored 15 goals with 27 assists and 42 points.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.24.2011 / 1:20 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Campoli fitting right into Hawks room

Defenseman Chris Campoli has only been with the Blackhawks since March 1 after being traded by the Ottawa Senators, but it hasn't taken him long to adjust to the culture in the defending Stanley Cup champions locker room.

He has also blended in perfectly with Chicago's assortment of puck-moving blueliners.

Campoli will be a restricted free agent this off-season, but on Saturday after practice he showed how much he enjoys being part of the Blackhawks. Chicago's locker room has big Blackhawks logo sewn into the carpeting that nobody is allowed to step on without drawing a verbal scolding from a player or media relations staff member.

For the playoffs, it's even blocked off with red strap markers. A reporter forgot the protocol in the crowded room and Campoli stopped his interview to loudly chastise him.

"I'm totally a Blackhawk," Campoli said on Sunday morning. "I yelled at a reporter yesterday for stepping on the logo. I think I'm officially a Blackhawk after that … but I feel totally part of this team. They've welcomed me with open arms. The guys have been great. Joel's been great. The organization's first class. I couldn't ask for a better city to play in, and I'm proud to say I represent."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:55 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Hamhuis happy for Preds after Game 5 win

Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis was playing in the United Center last season for the Nashville Predators when they lost a gut-wrenching Game 5 to the Hawks in overtime.

In fact, Hamhuis was injured on a hit from behind by Marian Hossa with time running down in the third period. Hossa got a boarding major, but the Hawks tied the game shorthanded with 13.6 seconds left in regulation -- and then Hossa won it in overtime.

Until Friday night's overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks, the Predators had never won a Game 5 in the playoffs -- which Hamhuis was glad to see from afar, now with Vancouver.

"They have a great group of guys over there and it's an organization that on paper seems to do so much with a lower grade payroll," Hamhuis said. 'It's great to see that they're having success and got over that hump in that Game 5 victory."

As for his own series, Hamhuis said it would be sweet to oust the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks on Sunday in Game 6 – the Canucks lead the series 3-2.

"I think for everybody in here it would be," Hamhuis said. "This is (Vancouver's) third crack at them. It was a tough series for us last year (with Nashville). We thought we should've won. So, a lot of guys would like to shake hands with them victoriously."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:51 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Luongo enjoys hostile Hawks crowd

Despite having had some of his worst performances in the United Center, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo still maintains that he likes playing here. The last time he was here, for Game 4 of this series, the Hawks put six goals on him in a 7-2 win and Luongo was pulled early in the third period.

Two years ago he gave up seven goals in a 7-5 loss in Game 6 that ended that Western Conference Semifinal series. Still, he says bring it on to Hawks fans.

"I love it," Luongo said of the hostile crowd. "I've always said I like to play in this building. It's fun. I love it when the crowd yells at me, even when I got pulled (in Game 4). That's what's fun about playing hockey, being part of environments like that. You can't always have people on your side. When they're against you, I kind of enjoy it a little bit more."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:49 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Bieksa says lay off Sedin twins

The Canucks' star twin forwards -- Henrik and Daniel Sedin -- have just one goal (by Daniel), no assists and a combined minus-9 rating in the past two games. Still, defenseman Kevin Bieksa said the twins get far too much criticism when things go wrong for Vancouver.

If you're looking for blame for the Canucks only scoring two goals in the past two games, Bieksa said to look at the team as a whole.

"They're our top guys and they're expected to perform offensively for us, but one of our strengths all year has been our secondary scoring," he said. "I don't think you can really look at (the Sedins) and blame them for the lack of goals. Defensively we have to step up and score a few more and our second and third lines have to get pucks on the net, too. You can't blame two guys."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:47 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Middle of the ice sure to be a factor

The Canucks say they've gotten too spread out on defense and allowed the Hawks far too much space to operate in both the neutral zone and the slot area between the circles in the offensive zone.

Hawks forward Patrick Kane said as much after Chicago's Saturday practice.

“They were stepping up a lot on us in the first couple games and making some big hits," Kane said. "Sometimes you make some adjustments on some different things and you try to find more pucks in the middle without them stepping up. The past couple games, their gap hasn’t been as good as the first three. You get more time and space, with the talent on our team you should be able to make plays."

To be sure, the Canucks are ready to make their own adjustment and clog up that middle area of the ice.

"Obviously, we’re aware of the situation," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "It's pretty easy to pick up on TV with our loose gap and everything. We’ll put something in place and see if we can do a better job of shutting down their offensive potential.”

Defenseman Kevin Bieksa said it's a major area of concern that needs to be addressed.

"The past two games we haven’t done a good job there," he said of the neutral zone and center of the ice. "We’re getting a little bit too spread out and that’s allowing them to attack us with a lot of speed. It’s tough to hold the line and defend when you have guys flying in at ya from two zones away. We’re definitely going to make that adjustment."
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:47 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Scott brings physical, comedic presence for Hawks

If Brent Seabrook is able to play in Game 6 for Chicago, that means Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will have an interesting decision on his hands regarding 6-foot-8, 258-pound enforcer John Scott -- who's actually had a larger role in this series than most would've expected.

Since Seabrook was hurt with a hit by Raffi Torres in Game 3, Scott has played and provided a physical presence for the Hawks in a pair of blowout wins -- games in which play got chippy.

"They have a couple guys that like to finish their hits and stir it up kind of, and with him on the ice it seems like everything quiets down," Hawks forward Bryan Bickell said of Scott. "I wouldn't want to have a guy coming at me, who's 6-8 and starting to stir up stuff, so I think it's good to have his presence on the ice."

Troy Brouwer agreed and said this kind of hard-hitting series is tailor-made for Scott.

"When he's on the ice, his stature might be a little intimidating or guys don't want to be around him, but he's in the mix," Brouwer said. "He's getting hits on the Sedins. He got hit by Torres last game pretty hard and he likes that kind of stuff. He's in there and battling, having fun."

Scott has been a healthy scratch for much of the regular season, but always seems to have a smile on his face off the ice -- not to mention some golden quips to fill up reporters' notebooks.

"It's funny, because for such a big guy and such a big body he's such a great guy, such a nice guy and brings that laughter and evenness that we need right now," Brouwer said. "Having him around and even having him on the ice has been a big impact, I think."

Would Brouwer go so far as to say he's this team's version of Adam Burish, who always had a gaggle of reporters crowded around his locker stall because of his clever remarks?

"No, I don't think (Scott's) quite as witty with the beak, but he's always keeping us laughing, keeping us on our toes and having some fun," Brouwer said, laughing. "Didn't matter if we were struggling during the season or in the playoffs, he was always there for that comic relief, I guess.”
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Posted On Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:45 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Brouwer says Edler elbow incident incidental

As the final seconds of the second period in Game 5 wound down, Blackhawks forward Troy Brouwer chased down Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler from behind right in back of the Vancouver net.

Brouwer got called for slashing on the play while trying to catch Edler, who stuck out his left arm to ward off Brouwer -- with his elbow catching Brouwer right in the face. Edler did not get called for elbowing, and the League did not review the play for a hit to the head.

Brouwer said he talked to an official about it, and was told the elbow wasn't seen.

"The ref that was behind me … had a quick chat with him and his angle was blocked by my body, so it’s tough to see," said Brouwer, who went after Edler, but was intercepted by Maxim Lapierre before eventually fighting Kevin Bieksa. "You know, he called a slash. So, he can see sticks but not elbows, I guess.”

Edler said he wasn't intending to elbow Brouwer.

"I didn't try anything with an elbow," he said after the Canucks practice on Saturday. "I saw that he was coming and tried to cut him off at the net a little bit."
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You could see out there that everybody was willing to compete, to sacrifice, even blocking shots to the end. Even in the third when we were up 5-0, guys were still working hard and blocking shots That's a nice feeling also for the future.

— Flames goalie Jonas Hiller after his team's 5-0 win over Carolina
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