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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 5:55 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Sharks series blog

Sharks get boost from improved special teams

VANCOUVER -- There is little doubt in Dan Boyle’s mind why the San Jose Sharks lasted only five games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season: Porous penalty killing.

The Sharks gave up six goals on 18 chances against the St. Louis Blues and bowed out earlier than any of their nine-straight postseason appearances.

“Our PK let us down and we were out,” Boyle said bluntly.

The veteran defenseman is confident it won’t happen again, not after the Sharks’ penalty killing unit went from 29th in the NHL at 76.9 percent last season to sixth in the League this year, killing off 85 percent of the chances they gave up.

That success continued in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Wednesday, with San Jose surrendering three shots on two chances for the Vancouver Canucks. Aggressively pursuing the puck in their own end, and seemingly not afraid to overload on one side, the Sharks kept the Canucks off balance and never really let them get set up and comfortable.

“One guy goes, everybody goes,” Boyle said. “Our unit as a whole has done a very good job all year and it’s just as important as the power play. It’s huge.”

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 5:13 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Sharks series blog

Canucks, Sharks battle over faceoffs

VANCOUVER -- The San Jose Sharks were the second best faceoff team in the NHL during the regular season and continued that dominance on the draw against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Led by Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture, San Jose won 40 of 70 faceoffs (57 percent) in the opener of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Wednesday, but Canucks coach Alain Vigneault takes issue with how the Sharks did it.

“Instead of trying to beat some of those guys clean, the way they cheat and are allowed to cheat, it makes it more challenging,” Vigneault said when asked about the faceoff discrepancy. “They got quite a few guys that can take draws.”

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Posted On Friday, 05.03.2013 / 4:22 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Sharks series blog

With Havlat out, Torres moves up for Sharks

VANCOUVER -- San Jose Sharks forward Martin Havlat won't play in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Friday (10 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS) after taking a stick in the groin from Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa in the series opener.

Havlat left with nine minutes left in the first period of San Jose's 3-1 win Wednesday, and replays of his last shift show Bieksa lifting his stick up into Havlat's groin area as he turned to box out for a rebound in front of the Vancouver net.

"Havlat? I don't remember," Bieksa said after the Canucks' optional morning skate Friday. "I don't know. I'll have to watch it over again to see what you are talking about."

Havlat was seen walking gingerly in the hallways of Rogers Arena but did not take part in the Sharks' skate Friday. Coach Todd McLellan didn't provide an update on the injury or have much to say about the incident that caused it.

"Marty is not playing [Friday] and I guess that is all that is important," McLellan said. "If there was a situation that somebody crossed the line, it could have been dealt with on the ice or after."

Asked if it was addressed at the League level, he said, "Not that I am aware of."


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Posted On Thursday, 05.02.2013 / 6:30 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Sharks series blog

Luongo will start Game 2 for regrouping Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Goaltending was back in the Vancouver Canucks' spotlight on Thursday, but they have bigger problems to worry about against the San Jose Sharks: scoring goals, killing penalties and winning faceoffs.

Roberto Luongo confirmed he would be back in net for Game 2 against San Jose on Friday Friday (10 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS) after a getting a somewhat surprising start in Wednesday's 3-1 loss to open the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Sharks.

Injured No.1 Cory Schneider didn't practice Thursday after being on the ice the previous four days, but there was no word whether he suffered a setback. Coach Alain Vigneault continued to label him "day-to-day" with a "body" injury.

"Not too sure what's going on with that," Luongo said of Schneider's health. "It's a playoff series, it's a bit of a mind game with the opposition, and I am just in the groove now to focus as if I am playing every game until I am told otherwise."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 5:46 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Sharks series blog

Canucks' Torres plans to 'just play my game'

VANCOUVER -- It didn’t take new San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres long to make a lasting impact on the past two Stanley Cup Playoffs, even if it wasn’t always positive.

Despite vowing to change his approach after a hit to the head knocked out Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa and earned Torres a 25-game suspension (later reduced to 21) in the first round last year, Torres is promising not to let up against his former Vancouver Canucks teammates in these playoffs.

“As the game is going and the puck is dumped in you can't focus on what friends you have over there,” Torres, acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes at the NHL Trade Deadline, said before Game 1 on Wednesday. “I don’t want them easing up on me.”

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 4:20 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Sharks series blog

Canucks' 'beast' Kesler will be ready for Game 1

VANCOUVER -- Almost lost amid the shock of Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo starting the team's Stanley Cup Playoff opener Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) was the absence of center Ryan Kesler from the morning skate.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault promised there would be no more surprises before the puck drops for Game 1, insisting Kesler exercised the option on an optional practice, despite the fact every other Vancouver player took part.

"We've got him locked up in the back, we're feeding him raw meat," Vigneault said with a laugh. "The beast will be ready tonight."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 3:42 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Sharks series blog

Luongo back in goal for Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks added another twist to their season-long goaltending soap opera when the club announced Roberto Luongo will start in net when the Canucks play Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

The possibility of Luongo playing in the opener was raised when Cory Schneider missed the final two games of the regular season and stayed off the ice for five days with what the team called a "body" injury. However, Schneider skated on his own Sunday and with team since Monday and Tuesday. He said after practice Tuesday he felt good enough to play.

Instead it will be Luongo, who lost the No. 1 job two games into last year's playoffs and started this season as Schneider's backup while expecting a trade that never happened.

"It's kind of funny I'm in this situation, but at the same time I'm not surprised," Luongo said, adding he didn't learn he was starting until Wednesday morning. "The way things have been going the last year, I didn't rule it out, for sure. It's been a fun ride and it's only going to get better from here on out."

The ride won't feature Schneider on the bench. First-year pro Joe Cannata, called up from the American Hockey League when Schneider couldn't practice last week, will dress as the backup.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 4:32 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Ducks resting stars in matchup with Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Anaheim Ducks are resting for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Vancouver Canucks are still trying to find chemistry before they start.

The Ducks will be without seven regulars when they play here Thursday, though initial plans to include captain Ryan Getzlaf among those resting may be scuttled with fellow center Nick Bonino not feeling well.

“We don't know yet, probably won’t know until game time,” Getzlaf said after the morning skate. “Either way, I’m kind of impartial to the whole thing. Sometimes its almost better to keep going as it is to rest, but the last couple of days have been good rest because I’ve been off both, so if I do play tonight it will be fine.”

With or without Getzlaf, the Ducks won’t resemble the team that clinched the Pacific Division on Monday night with a win against the Edmonton Oilers.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.24.2013 / 6:38 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Ducks will rest Selanne, Koivu on Thursday

VANCOUVER -- With nothing to gain in the regular season, the Anaheim Ducks will rest veteran forwards Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

The Ducks clinched the Pacific Division and locked themselves into the second seed in the Western Conference with a 3-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night. Anaheim finishes the season at home against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.

“You can look at it both ways, it’s a fine line,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of resting players. “I think some guys do need a rest. … But I don’t think those two guys are going to lose anything. They are by far the oldest line in the NHL, I gotta believe."

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Posted On Monday, 04.22.2013 / 4:38 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Battered on defense, Canucks give Corrado a look

VANCOUVER -- While the Chicago Blackhawks contemplate resting key players in the final week of a dominant regular season, the Vancouver Canucks are just trying to find enough healthy defensemen to make it to the end.

Frank Corrado will not only make his NHL debut for Vancouver against League-leading Chicago on Monday night, he will do so on a top-four pairing with Alexander Edler. Not bad for a 20-year-old who was playing junior 10 days ago.

Corrado's debut comes with Kevin Bieksa and Christopher Tanev -- the Canucks' only two right-shot defensemen -- both out with lower-body injuries. Keith Ballard joined them on the sidelines after tweaking his back in a fight Saturday.

Derek Joslin was the only other healthy option, but he shoots left, so the Canucks called up Corrado, who played three games with their American Hockey League affiliate after his junior season in the Ontario Hockey League ended.

"It's a combination of we're curious to see if he can play at this level and, personnel-wise, we have two options right now and one of those options is a right-handed shot," coach Alain Vigneault said. "So that's basically how he won the job."


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Quote of the Day

Hockey means everything to people here [Winnipeg]. They take their team's success to heart. We've had an incredible year and they've given us incredible support.

— Jets center Mathieu Perreault after losing to the Ducks in Game 3 of their playoff series on Monday