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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 4:31 PM

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

Hawks stars agree with critics

Chicago's four top scorers – Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa – have just one assist and a minus-6 rating between them after the first two games.

They're also taking a good amount of criticism because of the stark lack of production and Chicago's sticky situation against the rival Canucks – trailing by two games and almost needing to win Game 3 on Sunday night to keep a realistic shot of winning the series alive.

Is the criticism coming their way fair?

"Absolutely," Toews said. "I always think that when things are going well, your star players are going to get a lot of credit -- but when things aren't going so well, they're the ones who are going to take the heat, as well. That kind of … is the whole thing with being a star player. It's not easy when your team is not doing so well. You're the one who is going to take the blame, so yeah, that is absolutely fair."

Kane agreed.

"I think (it's fair)," he said. "I don't think our best players have been living up to par, that's for sure. We know we've got better in us. It's fun this time of year. It's fun to have that pressure on you and it's fun to make sure that we come out and lead the way for our team. I think for all of us, whether it's five of us, six of us or 20 of us, all of us know we have better."

Sharp also agreed, in his own way. Asked by a reporter if it was "too simplistic" to say the Canucks' stars are better than Chicago's stars, Sharp bristled.

"Uh, they're up 2-0 in the series, I guess is what I would say," Sharp said.
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 4:20 PM

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

Blackhawks looking for power-play fixes

Chicago came into the regular season wanting to improve from the previous season on the power play and got the job done by becoming one of the League's most dangerous teams with the man advantage.

Now, the Blackhawks are looking to fix the power play in the postseason after going a combined 0-for-5 with the man advantage in the first two games against the Canucks.

As defenseman Brian Campbell aptly pointed out after Chicago's morning skate on Sunday, had they converted even one of those five chances, it probably wouldn't be a topic of discussion among the media. But they didn't … so it is.

As a result, the Hawks are searching for answers quickly now that they're down two games to none.

What’s the biggest issue?

"A little more urgency, maybe," said Patrick Sharp, who led the Hawks with 12 power-play goals in the regular season. "I think they're pressuring us up ice and in the zone, doing a good job of taking away time and space. We've got to realize that and support each other. It's not always the guy with the puck not being able to make a play, but it's the guys without that puck that have to support him."

Getting off to a strong start at even strength could also help, according to Hawks captain Jonathan Toews – a key playmaking center on the No. 1 power-play unit.

"It's all going to come off our work ethic and the way we play 5-on-5," said Toews, who has yet to record a single point and has a minus-2 rating. "If we show we're playing better as a team, 5-on-5, early in the game the power play can come off of that, too."

Another key member of the Hawks power play, Patrick Kane, said that coming out of their own end with the man advantage has also been an issue.

"That's probably the biggest thing," Kane said. "I thought in the (first) two games they kind of hemmed us in our own end a little bit on the power play and you definitely don't want that. We've got to settle down and make sure we're coming out with good breakouts."
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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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Friday, 04.15.2011 / 4:43 PM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Tickets hard to come by, even for players

VANCOUVER -- When it comes to Stanley Cup Playoff tickets the players are no different than an average fan: tickets are limited and come at a premium price.

The Chicago Blackhawks know first-hand the cost of playoff tickets in Vancouver -- the team had four B.C. natives on the team the previous two seasons while Troy Brouwer and Brent Seabrook continue to shell out for postseason tickets.

"It gets pricey, that's for sure," Brouwer said, chuckling. "But to play in front of your friends and family, mainly your family, it doesn't really matter how much they are. I want them to be here, I want them to be at the games.

"You know it's playoffs and obviously the team and the League are going to try and generate some revenue. (Cost) doesn't matter as long as they're in the building and able to watch."

Brouwer admits tickets are more available now that Colin Fraser (Edmonton Oilers) and Andrew Ladd (Atlanta Thrashers) departed in the offseason -- especially Ladd, who hailed from Maple Ridge, B.C., and had a large family contingent at games.

The Blackhawks forward has managed to cut down on the number of tickets he purchases now when he's in Vancouver, but wishes he had bought six for tonight.

"Just five (tonight): my mom, my dad, my uncle, my sister and her husband," Brouwer said. "My grandma lives in Victoria, B.C. and she's 80-years-old. I wish she could come over, but sometimes she just can't."

And forget about hometown discount.

"I wish they did, but unfortunately it doesn't work that way, and everything obviously goes towards the League," Brouwer said.

Ryan Johnson, who spent two seasons with the Canucks, is also finding himself purchasing a number of tickets for games in Vancouver.

"I've got a lot of good friends that I've met here over the years," Johnson said. "This time of the year unfortunately you can't answer every call and every text -- you hope people understand."

Johnson says it's sometimes difficult to explain to friends and family that tickets are not readily available.

"The friends that don't understand that this is a tough ticket, even as a visiting player coming in here, even as a home player, tickets aren't necessarily available by the dozens so just explaining that sometimes is a little trying."

As for how much Brouwer has spent over the past three years, the 25-year-old wasn't even willing to throw out a ballpark number.

"Too much, that's all I'm going to say."

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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.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 6:37 PM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Blackhawks use off day for rest

VANCOUVER -- After being physically out-played for much of Wednesday night's 2-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the Chicago Blackhawks elected to hold an optional skate on Thursday morning at Rogers Arena.

The likes of Fernando Pisani, Marcus Kruger and David Bolland practiced along with the black aces while Chris Campoli, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell and Michael Frolik were the lone members of the Blackhawks made available to handle the media duties.

"Rest is always good, they've done a good job of giving us rest," said Seabrook. "It's one of those things where we've got to take today as a rest day and get focused for tomorrow."

Added head coach Joel Quennville, "That's something we decided, we'll have a morning skate tomorrow, and be ready to go "

The Blackhawks have owned the Canucks in Game 2 of the series the previous two years winning 6-3 in 2009 and 4-2 in 2010.

"I think it's just game one you know? Last year they beat us 5-1 in game 1 and the year before they beat us (too)," Seabrook said. "We got to refocus and be ready for tomorrow's game and we got to come out with a good effort."

Tomas Kopecky, who took a big hit from Canucks forward Victor Oreskovich in the first period of the Game 1 loss is unlikely for Game 2 on Friday.

Kopecky played just 2:22 before leaving with what the team called an "upper body" injury.

Pisani, who was a healthy scratch in Game 1, is likely to draw in to the line-up.

"I think Pi's got a good chance of getting in we'll see how (John) Scott looks," said Quennville of his line-up changes for Friday.

The news is better for Ryan Johnson, who was hit by former teammate Tanner Glass late in the third period. Glass caught Johnson with what appeared to be a knee-on-knee hit along the boards in the neutral zone.

Johnson did not play a shift the rest of the way, but is expected to be in the line-up tomorrow night.

Bolland, who has been out of the line-up since March 9 with a concussion, is still a ways away and is receiving treatment multiple times a day.

Chicago also made another call to the farm on Thursday recalling forwards Jeremy Morin, Brandon Pirri, Robert Klinkhammer along with defensemen Shawn Lalonde, Brian Connelly, Ryan Stanton and goaltender Alec Richards.
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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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 2:33 AM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCQF: Vancouver-Chicago Live Blog

Canucks play a physical game

In order to be the best, you've got to beat the best.

After being knocked out of the playoffs two years in a row at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, Canucks GM Mike Gillis went out and improved his depth among his forwards.

Gillis acquired the likes of Victor Oreskovich (free-agent signing) and Max Lapierre (trade-deadline acquisition) to bolster his bottom-six forwards and add some much-needed grit.

On Wednesday night, both showed up vividly on the score sheet as Oreskovich and Lapierre combined for 12 of the team's 47 hits in a 2-0 win against the Chicago Blackhawks. Lapierre also went 5-for-7 in the face-off circle, while linemate Tanner Glass chipped in with three hits of his own, including a solid hit on former teammate Ryan Johnson, who was clearly shaken up as a result.

"We definitely wanted to establish a physical presence especially on their defense," said coach Alain Vigneault. "We know their 'D' are a very big part of their team, all six of those defensemen love to jump up on the attack whether it'd be on the rush or in our end and we got to make their life challenging."

Lapierre, who was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks at the deadline for Joel Perrault and a draft pick, was a physical presence for the Montreal Canadiens last spring on their surprise run in the playoffs.

"Max played a good game for us tonight, he brought the energy we expect, he brought the discipline and the physical game we expect from him," Vigneault said. "He had some real good experiences especially last year with Montreal, where he had a big role in the playoffs."

Oreskovich, who spent last season between the Florida Panthers and AHL Rochester, had four hits in the win – including a check on Blackhawks forward Tomas Kopecky in the first period. Kopecky left the game with what the team called an upper-body injury and did not return.

"I thought everyone played real physical – you look at the hits at the end of the game and I think that might've been the difference in the game," Oreskovich said. "Just trying to be real tough to play against tonight."

For their part the Blackhawks had 21 hits, 18 of which came in the first 40 minutes.

"They took it to us physically tonight," admitted Patrick Kane. "We got to make sure we're better in that respect – try to play physical on their defense, try to wear them down a little bit.

"I know they got some guys back there who have been injured for a while and maybe played a couple games since they've been injured so try to get on them, hit them and maybe that can make the difference."
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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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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My job was to get that puck and put it on net, and his job was not letting me do it. I got the best of that, but that game's over and to be honest I already forgot about it.

— Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk on his late game-tying goal in Montreal's 2-1 OT win
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