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Posted On Saturday, 06.11.2011 / 1:59 AM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Fans in frenzy after Game 5 win

VANCOUVER – An estimated crowd of 70,000 to 100,000 people were in the downtown core for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final -- and many of them will now likely party into the early hours of Saturday morning after the Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 1-0.

By 3 p.m. local time, bars along Water Street in Gastown had significant lineups, and bar patios along Burrard Street were at capacity well before puck drop.

Georgia Street, one of the city's main arteries in to the downtown core, was shut down at noon on Friday to accommodate those who planned to watch the game on a large screen set up at the intersection of Georgia and Hamilton, outside of the CBC's Vancouver bureau.

Once the final buzzer sounded, three to four city blocks were jammed with fans taking in the game.

If the scene after Vancouver's 3-2 win in Game 2 win last Saturday night was any indication, traffic will not be getting through on Granville Street, in the city's popular entertainment district, until well into Saturday morning.

Canucks fans have been waiting 17 long years to see their team get back to the Stanley Cup Final, and coming on the heels of the 2010 Winter Olympics last February, have been using the Final run to re-create the festive atmosphere created by the Olympics.

Fans will pour into Rogers Arena by the thousands once again on Monday night to take in Game 6 on the big screen. Canucks Sports and Entertainment has opened the building to fans at $10 a ticket, with proceeds going to charity.

Games 3 and 4 sold out, and tickets were fetching over $100 on sites like Craigslist.

Many in Vancouver feel a Stanley Cup win will be bigger than the Olympic gold won by Canada last winter. It will be to no one's surprise that the celebration will be larger, and last longer, if the Canucks can cash in.

Posted On Thursday, 06.02.2011 / 6:05 PM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Malhotra remains 'day-to-day' for Canucks

VANCOUVER -- For the third consecutive day injured Canucks center Manny Malhotra did not skate with his teammates. Coach Alain Vigneault maintained the 31-year-old is "day-to-day."

Malhotra last skated with his teammates on Monday participating in a 40-minute scrimmage, and was then paired alongside Maxim Lapierre on a penalty-killing unit as the Canucks worked on their special teams.

The former first-round pick of the New York Rangers began skating with his teammates, wearing a tracksuit, on May 12 and steadily progressed to the point where he was in full gear participating in entire on-ice workouts.

The Mississauga native last played March 16 when he was struck in the eye by a deflected puck. He’s undergone two separate procedures on his left eye, and was cleared for contact late last week.

Malhotra had 11 goals and 30 points in 72 regular season games with Vancouver.
Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 2:10 AM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Highlights of the night

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks had their way with the San Jose Sharks Wednesday night at Rogers Arena, beating the visitors 7-3 to take a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Here are some of the highlights:

The Turning Point: At 12:05 of the second period, with the game tied 2-2, Chris Higgins hit Kevin Bieksa with a pass in stride through the neutral zone. The man they call 'Juice' made no mistake on his breakaway, beating Antti Niemi low glove-side for his third of these playoffs.

Vancouver would go on to score four more in the third before Ben Eager got the Sharks' third of the night.

The Save: With 2:26 remaining in the second Henrik Sedin feathered a pass cross-ice to defenseman Alexander Edler. However, Niemi came up with a huge right pad save to keep his team in it, and maintain the one-goal game.

The Quote: "(Kevin Bieksa's) a phony. He goes after our top players. He's been asked many times, by lots of players throughout the League (to fight), and he's declined. -- Sharks forward Ben Eager on Bieksa electing to fight Patrick Marleau

Player of the Game: Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa had a big night in the team's Game 2 win. He finished with a "Gordie Howe hat trick," collecting a goal, assist and a fight. Bieksa also had five hits in 18:55 of ice time.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.18.2011 / 10:26 PM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Samuelsson update Thursday?

VANCOUVER – Expect an update on injured Canucks forward Mikael Samuelsson on Thursday.

According to a source, the 34-year-old Swede is expected to be out of action for a while. It has not been confirmed, but it's believed Samuelsson has undergone some type of surgery.

On Wednesday morning, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault told the media that Samuelsson would not travel to San Jose for Games 3 and 4.

Samuelsson suffered a lower-body injury in mid-March during a loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. It's believed Samuelsson re-aggravated the injury during the Canucks' Game 5 loss to the Nashville Predators. He has not played since.

The former Detroit Red Wing also missed Game 1 of the Chicago series, but the team said it was a case of the flu at the time.

Samuelsson had 18 goals and 50 points during the regular season and added a goal and two assists during the playoffs.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.18.2011 / 3:25 PM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Sharks know they must shoot to score

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The San Jose Sharks led the League in shots with over 2,800 during the regular season and admit it was a big part of their game, but on Sunday night they were outshot 13-7 in the third period and 38-29 overall.

Part of the reason the Nashville Predators were able to push the Canucks to six games in the second round was because of their ability to get lucky bounces from bad angles -- putting pucks on net from all areas of the ice.

The tactic is something the Sharks say they need to do a better job of tonight.

"We pride ourselves on getting a lot of shots and not giving up that many, lately it's kind of been the opposite so we definitely want to get shots on net," said Devin Setoguchi, who had three shots on goal in Game 1. "On a big goalie like (Roberto Luongo), you need to get a lot of shots in because they're so good."

The Sharks seemed to be putting pucks on net from all angles on Luongo early in the Canucks' 3-2 win, with 10 shots through the opening 20, but as the game wore on the Canucks took over and the Sharks had just 19 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes.

"They had the puck most of the third period, they were able to control the play and, for us, part of controlling the game is getting pucks on net and then getting rebounds," said Kyle Wellwood, who had just one shot on goal. "That's going to be a staple of the series for us."

Sixteen of the Sharks' 29 shots came from their top six forwards in the Game 1 loss including five each for Joe Thornton and Logan Couture.

"We led the League in shots because we had the puck and we were able to create chances all over the ice," Wellwood said. "We didn't do that the second half of the first game, so we're hoping we'll have enough energy to mount a strong game tonight."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan says the shot totals is directly related to getting pucks in deep behind the Canucks defense and winning battles on the forecheck.

"If the puck is not on your tape, you can't shoot it," he said. "We feel at this time of the year, you look at the (Tampa Bay-Boston) game last night, pucks going to the net from everywhere. 
 
"It's very hard to defend a shot. If it comes off a goaltender, nobody knows where it's going. It's easier to be on the offensive than the defensive. The more it gets there, the more opportunities you have to play in the opposition's end."
Posted On Tuesday, 05.17.2011 / 7:12 PM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Twitter not for 'Juice'

VANCOUVER -- There will be no tweeting from 'Juice' -- at least not anytime soon.

An online petition or 'Twitition' to get Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who is known to his teammates as 'Juice', on the popular social networking site Twitter is currently circulating on Twitition.com.

As of 3:30 p.m. PT, the Twitition had 383 signatures. However, those may be 383 disappointed Canucks fans as Bieksa told the media on Tuesday afternoon he has no plans on joining.

"There's a petition?" he said, laughing. "I'm not really a Twitter kind of guy. I don't think everybody needs to know every single thought that's in my head."

Bieksa's former teammate, and current Nashville Predators defenseman Shane O'Brien joined Twitter in the playoffs (@ShaneOBrien55), but even that couldn't spark interest from the 29-year-old.

"Shane is on there," Bieksa said. "(I saw) a couple nice comments."

Ryan Kesler is the only current Canuck on Twitter (@Ryan_Kesler) – he was helped by 2K Sports as he is the cover boy for their NHL 2K11 video game -- but he won't be helping his teammate get on the social networking, too.

"No he's not a tweeter," said Kesler, who currently has 39, 913 followers.

Canucks GM Mike Gillis is also on Twitter (@GMMikeGillis), but he is aided by the Canucks PR staff.
Dan Hamhuis, who often keeps to him self, felt the need to jump into the debate on Tuesday, which drew laughter from all in attendance.

"I currently don't tweet," he said. "I'm not too aware of what's going on there, but it sounds interesting. What's the proposal?"

Perhaps Canucks fans are targeting their Twitition at the wrong blue liner.

Posted On Monday, 05.16.2011 / 12:56 AM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Highlights of the night

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks opened up the Western Conference Finals with a 3-2 win at Rogers Arena on Sunday night.

Here are some of the highlights:

The Hit:
Vancouver out-hit San Jose by a 38-26 margin, with the biggest one going to Chris Higgins in the middle period. The Canucks' forward, who has been limping all week as a result of blocking a shot off his left foot, caught Joe Pavelski with a huge hit just outside the Sharks blue line. Pavelski appeared to be struggling to gain control of the puck when he was run over by Higgins. Higgins finished the night tied for a team-high five hits. 

The Turning Point:
With about three minutes remaining in the second period the Canucks had a number of chances in-close on Antti Niemi, including Ryan Kesler, who could not get the puck past Niemi's right pad. Despite not scoring, the flurry, which generated seven shots for Vancouver, turned the tide of the game. The Canucks went on to score twice in a 1:19 span of the third to seal a come from behind victory.

The Save:
Despite being out-shot 38-20 by the Canucks, the biggest save of the night belonged to Niemi. After Kesler failed the find the back of the net late in the second with Niemi down and out, Raffi Torres hit Jannik Hansen with a perfect pass; however, Niemi managed to get his left pad on the Canucks' forward's shot, preserving the Sharks 2-1 lead at the time.

The Quote:
"It started with the ears and worked all the way through the body. We were like dogs chasing cars down the freeway."

-- Sharks coach Todd McLellan on the fatigue his team faced in the third

Player of the Game:
For all the criticism he faced in the second round when he scored just a single goal (an empty-netter at that), Canucks captain Henrik Sedin looked like his old self Sunday night picking up the game-winner.  Henrik received a pass from Christian Ehrhoff as he was cutting across the net and beat Niemi -- who was down and out -- with a backhand shot for the eventual game-winner.  Henrik finished the night with a goal and an assist and won 12-of-17 draws in the face-off circle.

Posted On Saturday, 05.14.2011 / 6:39 PM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Bieksa throws dagger at Wellwood

VANCOUVER, B.C. – After engaging in a war of words with Chicago's John Scott in the first round of these playoffs, Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa was told to keep his mouth shut during the Nashville series.

"I was told not to make this series a spectacle like last one with me and John Scott. I'll let (Shane O'Brien) throw the first dagger," Bieksa said prior to Game 1 of the Predators series.

Apparently he has a short memory, as he was up to his old tricks once again on Saturday morning.

To be fair, Sharks forward, and former Canucks center, Kyle Wellwood got things started with comments made to the Vancouver Province in mid-March.

"I just feel Vancouver has a few more lessons to learn and I'm glad I'm in San Jose," Wellwood said. "I just feel they're [meaning the Sharks] more mature because they've lost a few more times.

"They're not so scared of losing. I think come playoff time this team [the Sharks] is going to be better."

Wellwood spent two seasons with the Canucks, putting up 52 points in 149 games. His weight issues relegated him to the press box at times, and at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season, the Windsor, Ont., native decided to sign in the KHL.

Nearly two months later it seemed Bieksa had forgotten about the 27-year-old's comments.

"I don't even remember what that weasel said," Bieksa commented initially. "When we had him on our squad we were afraid to lose. (Wellwood) was the smallest third-line center in the League at that point.''

You're on the clock Mr. Wellwood...
Posted On Friday, 05.13.2011 / 1:02 PM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Canucks recall five from Manitoba

VANCOUVER B.C. -- As promised, the Vancouver Canucks recalled five players from their American Hockey League affiliate in Manitoba on Friday, including goaltender Eddie Lack.

Along with Lack, Vancouver recalled Chris Tanev, Sergei Shirokov, Aaron Volpatti and Alexandre Bolduc.

Lack, a 23-year-old from Norrtalje, Sweden, had a 28-21-4 record in his rookie season in the AHL. The six-foot-four netminder was signed as a free-agent last spring. Lack had a 6-4-0 record in the playoffs to go along with a .932 save percentage and a 1.99 GAA.

Tanev, a defenseman from Toronto, was also a free agent signing last spring and spent 29 games with the Canucks this season registering an assist. With the Moose the 21-year-old had 9 points in 39 regular season games and added 1 goal and 2 assists in 14 playoff games.

Shriokov appeared in two games with the Canucks during the regular season registering a goal. The 25-year-old native of Moscow had 22 goals and 58 points in 76 games during the regular season in Manitoba, and added 7 goals and 10 points in 14 playoff games.

Volpatti also had a brief stint with the Canucks during the season dressing in 15 games with the Presidents' Trophy winners picking up a goal and an assist. In 53 games with the Moose the Revelstoke, BC native had two goals and 74 penalty minutes. The 25-year-old added a goal and three points in 12 playoff games.

Bolduc, who battled with shoulder and ankle injuries throughout the season, dressed in 24 games with the Canucks this season collecting 2 goals and 4 points. The Montreal native added 6 goals and 9 assists in 26 games with the Moose to go along with 4 goals in 14 playoff games.

The Moose were eliminated from the Calder Cup playoffs of on Monday with a 2-1 triple overtime loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs in Game 7 of their second-round matchup.
Posted On Friday, 04.29.2011 / 1:24 AM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Ballard clips Tootoo

It was the right call, but a clipping penalty to Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard at 16:35 of the second period had the 18,860 in attendance at Rogers Arena Thursday night up in arms.

Ballard, who is known for his well-timed hip checks, caught Nashville forward Jordin Tootoo just inside the Canucks' blue line. The gritty Predator went up and over, much to the delight of Canucks fans – but the cheers quickly turned to boos when Ballard was assessed a minor penalty.

"I guess I went too low, I know it's a rule, I've got the penalty before," Ballard said. "I just can't hit the guy too low. I don't know if I did or not."

The clipping call, if you're wondering, Rule 44.1 in the NHL Rule book. It states, "Clipping is the act of throwing the body, from any direction, across or below the knees of an opponent."

For his part, Tootoo didn't have a problem with the hit.

"It's part of the game," he said. "If you're going to dish it out, you got to be able to receive it, so it's no big deal to me."

Ballard wasn't protesting the call.

"I hit him at the knees, he called the penalty and that's the way it goes, the guys did a great job killing it," he said. "It's not my call, they have a hard job to do and they do a pretty good job."
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Quote of the Day

The old saying in hockey is 'weather the storm.' I put the notion in their heads that we don't want to weather the storm, we want to push just as hard and matched their work ethic. I thought our guys exceeded that in the first period.

— Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after their loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday
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