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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 4:47 PM

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

It's all on you Vancouver

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Blackhawks have believed since Game 1 that the pressure is all on the Canucks, and they're not about to change their tune now.

"We're confident and we're having a lot of fun, but nothing changes coming into this game," captain Jonathan Toews said. "We still feel the pressure is on them. They're the ones that had a 3-0 lead and they're trying to close us out. We're just putting the pressure on them and nothing has changed in that way."

Added Viktor Stalberg: "Really we have nothing to lose. The pressure is on them. This city is not going to be happy if they lose four straight to us. It's going to be fun for us. We can go in with no pressure, just try to play our game and have fun with it."

Patrick Kane said he can sense that the city of Vancouver is on tilt heading into Game 7.

"It's a big hockey city and they were expected to do well this year," Kane said. "They were in a good position after Game 3."

Toews thinks he knows what the Canucks have to do to have a chance to win tonight.

"If they want to beat us they're going to have to play their best game of the series," he said. "We know we're going to bring our best game."

"I certainly think we have momentum going into the game," added coach Joel Quenneville. "We were talking in Game 4 about just getting the momentum changed in our direction and see where it takes us. I think it's taken us to a pretty remarkable place."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.26.2011 / 4:31 PM

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

Kane on Canucks: 'They take some stupid penalties'

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- When asked about the comments Vancouver GM Mike Gillis made Monday about the officiating in this series and how the Canucks aren't getting a fair shake, most of the Blackhawks shrugged their shoulders and danced around the issue.

But, Patrick Kane and coach Joel Quenneville attacked Gillis' remarks head on.

"I think maybe him doing that takes the pressure off his players a bit and puts the emphasis on something else," Kane said Tuesday morning. "I mean, the way they play is pretty physical and sometimes they take some stupid penalties. I don't think you can really complain about many calls to be honest with you."

Quenneville pulled a Gillis and cited the facts.

"My only comment to that is I just look at our regular season we were the second fewest penalized team all year long," he said. "That's my defense."

Technically he's not accurate since the Hawks were actually third in total penalties and penalty minutes during the regular season, but they were second in total times shorthanded whereas the Canucks were 24th. Vancouver was also 18th in total penalties and 13th in penalty minutes.

So, what Quenneville is saying is that the trend in this series -- Chicago has had 27 power plays to Vancouver's 16 -- is right on par with what happened for the two squads in the regular season.

Nevertheless, Kane understood why Gillis stepped out in front of the cameras and made his remarks Monday.

"It might be a good move by him to try to get the emphasis on something else and maybe the League or the refs start thinking about it," He said. "But, I don't think it's really going to matter tonight. I think it's going to be a fair game."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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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 / 2:15 PM

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

Is it Game 6 or Game 7?

CHICAGO -- Henrik Sedin is still trying to keep the mood light around his club, so in response to a question that referenced the Penguins-Lightning series, Vancouver's captain had this to say to a group of reporters Sunday morning at the team hotel:

"I can't believe a team could lose 8-2 in the playoffs."

He was kidding, of course. After all, then Canucks lost to Chicago, 7-2, in Game 4.

But, Sedin's attitude in the morning spoke to how the Canucks are feeling. Despite getting blitzed by a combined 12-2 in Games 4 and 5, they are still in control of this series up 3-2. Only one team Sunday night can skate into the second round.

That being said, Vancouver is prepared to treat Game 6 like it's Game 7 just so it can feel the same pressure to win as the Blackhawks.

"We haven't done that in the last two games and tonight it's time," Henrik said. "We have to treat this as a Game 7 and play a lot better."

It's fair to say that even with one more mulligan still left in their bag, if the Canucks lose Game 6, then Game 7 Tuesday in Vancouver could be ugly, too.

"We know in this League if you're not on top of your game it's going to be like this," Sedin said. "We haven't had guys doing the things we're supposed to do and if you don't do that it's going to get out of hand. We've seen that in other series than ours, too."

Just as the Blackhawks are inspired by what the Flyers were able to do after falling into a 3-0 hole last year, the Canucks have to be aware of why the Bruins let them back in it.

"The last couple of games we've been out of the game halfway through the first period," Henrik said. "(A good start) is huge for us. Even if they score first we have to stick to our gameplan. We can't start looking for goals. We're going to have to keep this game tight and if you have to win it in the last minute, that's fine with us."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl



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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

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 / 6:47 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 / 6:45 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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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 8:40 PM

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

Hawks not planning to change a thing

While blowing out the Canucks in Games 4 and 5, Chicago has also managed to annoy its arch-enemy to the point where Vancouver players have done a few extracurricular things to strike back physically.

Hamhuis' hit on Bolland was just one of several the Hawks hold in contention from Game 5 – which also included a blatant elbow to the face of Troy Brouwer delivered by Alex Edler at the end of the second period that started a small melee.

Brouwer, who got a hard punch off against Kevin Bieksa in that scrap, was also punched several times by Bieksa while an official held Brouwer down trying to break up the altercation. Toews said the Canucks can expect more of the Hawks' swagger in Game 6 -- and, if necessary, Game 7.

"We're not going out there trying to suck them into anything, but we're playing hard," Toews said. "If you get a lead, sometimes they're going to start doing stuff like that. You can always argue there's a few things you'd like to be called, and when it's not called sometimes it does get out of hand a little bit. It is what it is and it's not going to stop us from playing the way we do."
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 8:40 PM

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

Toews says Torres hit was a motivator

Some are now saying this series changed after Canucks forward Raffi Torres was not suspended by the League for the Game 3 hit he put on Brent Seabrook, in which Seabrook was leveled while looking behind him behind the Hawks net.

Seabrook missed Game 4 and Game 5 and is questionable for Game 6. Meanwhile, the Hawks have played inspired hockey in his absence. Did that Torres hit ignite a salvo that awoke a sleeping bear?

"That's what everyone wants to say," Toews said. "We just like to say it was added motivation on top of the fact that we were down 3-0 to probably our biggest rival in the League right now -- especially when we lose a key player like Brent Seabrook. Every single guy in that locker room was reminded at that point that, ‘Hey, we're letting this team get away with too much,' and you know, we had to hold them accountable a little bit. That little extra motivation thrown on top of that, it fueled the fire for sure."
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 8:39 PM

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

Hawks not happy with Hamhuis hit

During a sequence in the second period in Game 5 when things started to get rough between the two teams, Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis went high on a hit against Hawks center Dave Bolland and appeared to smash Bolland's head into the glass behind the net.

Bolland, playing just his second game after a severe concussion that kept him out for 17 games, took a penalty on the play and was irate as he headed to the bench -- smashing his stick into pieces. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't know what the fuss was about at first, but got a good look at it on a video replay and agreed with Bolland.

"I was wondering why he was so upset and then I saw the replay and I think coming off his injury, he's got a reason," Quenneville said Friday at O'Hare Airport after the Hawks returned from Vancouver.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews also thought a penalty should have been called, but took the opportunity on Friday to display his own dry brand of humor when asked about Bolland's reaction.

"He definitely didn't look happy after that," Toews said. "He felt there should've been a call and showed the way he felt … just as long as he doesn't run out of sticks, we'll be all right."
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Posted On Friday, 04.22.2011 / 10:08 AM

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

Blackhawks exposing Canucks

VANCOUVER -- After going down 0-3 in the series Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said his team wasn’t exposing the Canucks for what they were -- "a beatable team."

Chicago made adjustments, and has now outscored the Canucks 12-2 in the last two games of the series, holding the Canucks' big line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alexandre Burrows to just one goal and a collective minus-11 in the two wins.

The defending Stanley Cup champions have all the momentum as the series moves to Chicago for another must-win for the Blackhawks on Sunday.

The Blackhawks appear to have found a couple weaknesses in the armor of the Presidents' Trophy winners. First is Roberto Luongo, the Canucks starting goaltender, who has allowed 10 goals on 40 shots in Game 4 and 5 losses.

On Thursday night Duncan Keith, who played with Luongo on Canada's gold medal winning Olympic team, dropped a hint.

"Take a look at our first goal," Keith told reporters.

Chicago's first goal in Game 5 came at 5:54 of the first period when Marian Hossa beat Luongo glove-side for his first of the playoffs. Hossa picked up his second goal of the night, in similar fashion, at 1:26 of the second period.

The glove-side arm is the one Luongo awkwardly fell on in Game 4 while making a save off of Bryan Bickell with just 25 seconds remaining in the first period. The Canucks maintained that Luongo was 100 percent healthy when he was given the day off from practice on Wednesday in Vancouver.

Additionally, once the Blackhawks have managed to build a lead, there's no looking back. Chicago outscored the Canucks 4-1 through 40 minutes at the United Center on Tuesday and subsequently outshot Vancouver 26-13.

In Game 5 Chicago outscored Vancouver 5-0 through the opening 40 minutes with no push back from Vancouver as rookie goaltender Corey Crawford picked up just his second playoff win and first career post-season shutout.

If the Canucks have any intention of winning this series, and avoiding becoming just the fourth team in playoff history to blow a 3-0 lead, they'll have to use their next two days wisely, make the necessary adjustments and be prepared for Game 6 at the Madhouse on Madison.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.21.2011 / 4:45 PM

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

Bounce back needed by Canucks

Bouncing back from losses is something the Canucks have managed to do quite well throughout the 2010-11 season, and they'll look to do the same tonight in Game 5 at Rogers Arena.

Canucks starter Roberto Luongo hasn't lost two starts in a row since February 22 and 26 when he did so against the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

The 32-year-old was ventilated for six goals on 28 shots in Tuesday's 7-2 loss and his teammates expect Luongo to be in fine form tonight.

"He's like a warrior, he's a competitor, you know he's going to bounce back and play a solid game," said Alexander Burrows. "(Tuesday) night those were good shots, good clean looks that they had at him. We just have to make sure we play better in front of him and it's a team effort."

Luongo opened the series turning aside all 32 Blackhawks shots in Game 1 for his second career playoff shutout, and then turned aside 30 shots in an impressive 3-2 win Game 3.

Luongo along with Alexander Edler and Henrik Sedin, who all had the day-of on Tuesday, were present at the team's optional skate Thursday morning.

"There's no momentum carry over into the next game unless we allow it," said Kevin Bieksa. "We come out with a different mindset, we'll play like we did in the first three games and we should be fine."

The Canucks are 1-1 in Game 5 against the Blackhawks the previous two springs. Last season Vancouver picked up a 4-1 win at the United Center while Chicago had a 4-2 win in Game 5 of the 2009 Western Conference Semi-Finals at what was then known as GM Place.
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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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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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 Wednesday, 04.20.2011 / 6:46 PM

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

Quenneville strikes gold with Bolland line combo

The Blackhawks are saying the return of center Dave Bolland helps balance their forward lines by giving coach Joel Quenneville another center and allowing him to put speedy Michael Frolik back on the wing.

It worked like a charm on Tuesday night in a 7-2 blitzing of the Canucks in Game 4 of the series, as Bolland's line -- he centered Bryan Bickell and Frolik -- combined for 3 goals and 8 points.

"Bolly and Bick always played together and Fro, we like the way he's responsible on both sides of the puck and has some upside offensively," Quenneville said before departing for Vancouver on Wednesday. "We haven't seen a lot of it, but he's capable of being in the right spots around the ice. Collectively it was a real nice unit."

He also was pleased with the other three combinations.

"I liked the lines," Quenneville said. "We had energy on all the lines. All three lines could score and make plays and there was something defensively to the lines, as well. It was one game but it was a big difference."
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.20.2011 / 6:46 PM

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

Hawks thought Bieksa could've drawn instigator

Toward the end of Game 4, with Chicago holding a commanding lead, things started to get a little rough between the Hawks and Canucks.

At one point, Hawks forward Viktor Stalberg leveled Mason Raymond on a forecheck and shortly afterward was in a fight against Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa -- who after the game said Stalberg "speared" Maxim Lapierre and "got what he deserved" in the fight, which was clearly won by Bieksa.

The Hawks thought Bieksa could've been called for an instigator penalty in the fight, but wasn't.

"I was kind of disappointed to see (Bieksa) jump Stalberg like that, but it is what it is," Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell said Wednesday. "I don't know what the calls are anymore, so I'll leave that up to everybody else. I'm confused."
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.20.2011 / 6:45 PM

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

Kane says Luongo still great

Despite scoring his first career hat trick in a seven-goal outburst against Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo two years ago, Patrick Kane didn't bite on a reporter's question about Luongo looking like "the old Luongo" while allowing six goals in a 7-2 loss on Tuesday night.

In fact, Kane went the other direction and heaped a bunch of praise on Luongo -- who helped Team Canada beat Kane and Team USA in overtime of the gold medal game in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"You look at all of our goals (on Tuesday), there's really none that you can blame on him to be honest with you," Kane said. "We've still got to worry about him because he's such a great goaltender, but hopefully(we'll) just keep getting some traffic, some shots and just keep taking the puck to the net. Hopefully we'll get some luck. He's still a great goaltender. You've got to give him that."
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.19.2011 / 2:34 PM

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

Hossa still looking for first point

For most of the games that he was healthy enough to play this season, the Blackhawks fared as Marian Hossa did.

When he scored goals or even a point in games, they usually won. When he didn't, they usually didn't. It's been the same so far in three games against the Canucks in a Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Hossa hasn't scored a single point and has a minus-3 rating and the Hawks are in a 3-0 hole trying to climb out in Game 4 tonight.

"I don't think right now … I don't feel like myself," Hossa said Tuesday morning. "I had some good chances, but sometimes you make a good play and we can not score the goals. Just because you're not having points, it doesn't mean you're not in a comfort zone, but obviously the points would help, the goals would help. Definitely, I'm looking forward to it."
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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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.19.2011 / 1:32 PM

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

Crawford not worried about Calder debate

Blackhawks rookie goalie Corey Crawford came into this season as Marty Turco's backup but eventually won the starting job and wound up being one of the main reasons Chicago qualified for the Western Conference playoffs.

It just wasn't enough to be included as a top-three finalist for the League's Calder Trophy that goes to the top rookie. Instead, Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture and New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner were named as finalists on Tuesday morning.

Crawford, who will start for the Hawks in Game 4 of their quarterfinal series against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, said he doesn’t have time to have much a reaction to the news.

"That's the least of my worries right now," said Crawford, who went 33-18-6 with a 2.30 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. "We've got bigger and more important things to think about and focus on."

His teammates, however, did express regret that Crawford wasn't included as a finalist and took up his care for him.

"He's been unbelievable for us this season and he's a big reason we were able to make the playoffs," Chicago forward Troy Brouwer said. "There's a pretty good crop of rookies out there this year … but (Crawford), I'm sure they had a pretty good discussion about him because of what he's been able to do with this team."

Marian Hossa was informed about Crawford not being named a Calder finalist by reporters after Chicago's morning skate and seemed stunned by the news.

"He wasn't," Hossa said. "Wow. That's a big surprise to me. He played so many games. He won so many games. That's a big surprise."
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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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 04.18.2011 / 5:10 PM

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

Rivalry still going strong

After Chicago started this season without many of the key characters involved in recent disputes and verbal barbs with the Canucks, there were some who felt the rivalry was cranked down a notch.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp says that it not the case and this series is only adding fuel to the fire on their side of it.

"Anytime you play a team in the playoffs once it becomes a rivalry," he said. "Going back two years ago, we had a great series with Calgary and every time we've played them since in the regular season it's been a heck of a game. I don't think the (Vancouver) rivalry is ratcheted down at all. Two teams that both want to win. Two teams that are playing hard. It's still there."
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Posted On Monday, 04.18.2011 / 5:02 PM

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

Hawks to get tougher with Sedins?

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was asked on Monday whether he needs to start targeting certain Canucks players with more physical play, as it appears Vancouver might be doing with several Hawks stars.

His answer was interesting and ultimately alluded to Chicago needing to bring more physical play to the ice when the top line featuring Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin go over the boards.

"The Sedins is who you're probably looking at and I think that … eventually they're going to get opportunities," Quenneville said. "It's the quality (chances) that you try to eliminate. They had some finish there the last couple of games, but certainly you start getting into that war, where all of a sudden you target guys and you put them on the power play and they’ve got a very good power play."

That doesn't mean go lightly on them, however. The Sedin twins have scored a combined 9 points in the last two games alone.

"You've got to be disciplined at the same time, with a purpose," Quenneville said. "But I still think we can me more engaged physically in this series and against those guys."
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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.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 4:51 PM

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

Canucks staying out of the box

Last season, the Blackhawks were successfully able to get in the heads of several Vancouver players and make them commit retaliatory actions that wound up being penalties that led to Chicago power-play goals.

This time around, the Canucks are trying to flip the scenario around – and appear to be doing it well, having committed just five penalties combined in the first two games.

"Our whole game plan is to initiate not retaliate," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said on Sunday. "We've done a good job of it so far. I don't see anything changing tonight."

If it doesn't, then the pressure will really increase for Chicago to improve its power play production (0-for-5 ) in the limited chances that happen.

"They've got a lot of skilled guys over there and can put out a good power-play unit," Vancouver center Ryan Kesler said. "You don't want to let those guys get going over there. You don't want to let their power play get out on the ice too much and get in a rhythm, where they might not be scoring – but they're generating momentum for their team. We just want to play good, hard hockey and stay out of the box."
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Posted On Sunday, 04.17.2011 / 4:45 PM

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

Matchups something to watch

Players on both sides say they're not worried about who comes over the boards for the other team when they're on the ice, but it’s something both coaches will be concerned with in Game 3.

In the first two games, Vancouver had the luxury of the final line change to match star center Ryan Kesler – a dynamic two-way player—against the Hawks' top line of Toews, Sharp and Hossa. Now that the series has shifted to the United Center, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville will get the last change and likely try to get his top line away from Kesler's as much as possible.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault will then have to find ways to match Kesler's line up with Toews' on the fly whenever possible. Kesler's ability in this series thus far is similar to the way injured Chicago center Dave Bolland gave the Canucks' Sedin twins fits last year in the playoffs – only Kesler is also a top goal-scorer.

"He's a good player and he does just about everything right out there," Sharp said of Kesler. "He's a hard-nosed guy. He's in your face. He's got speed, strength and is a 40-goal scorer, as well. He can hurt you in a lot of ways and he's a tough guy to match up against."

Toews went so far as to say the Hawks need to reverse the strategy and target Kesler more – the same way they try to lock down the Sedins.

"He's a guy that maybe we don't focus on enough and maybe we've got to find some ways to expose him a little bit," Toews said. "There's many ways to do that. It's just about doing that tonight. Whatever line's up against that line, you're just as concerned with a guy like him as we are, say, the Sedin twins."
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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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Posted On Wednesday, 04.13.2011 / 4:33 PM

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

Heard around the rooms

Here are some quotes from both dressing rooms after each morning skate prior to Game 1:

BLACKHAWKS

Patrick Sharp: "The thing about the Vancouver Canucks is if you shut down the Sedins you've got a whole bunch of other problems to worry about it."

Brent Seabrook: "You definitely have to be aware of where (the Sedins) are at. You don't want to have me and Duncan (Keith) on a 2-on-1 leading the rush. You have to keep it in the back of your head, keep looking for them and watching for them, making sure you're always in good position."

Troy Brouwer: "Any guy wants to come back earlier than they should, especially at this time of the year, but you've got to make sure your body can handle the stress that may be brought on it. You have to be able to protect yourself in case you get in a tough situation."

Patrick Kane: "You'd always want Bollie (Dave Bolland) back, but one of the reason they were so successful is because of Duncs and Seabs, too. Those two guys are really are the shutdown pair and they seem to shutdown anyone they play against."

CANUCKS

Henrik Sedin: "We have a lot of respect for those guys, they are the Stanley Cup champs and that's the team to beat for us. Other than that we've done a great job all year to just focus on the next game and play our game. That's not going to change too much for us."

Kevin Bieksa: "It's a new year and two different teams in my mind. They're a lot different than they were last year and the year before. I think it's no secret that a lot of their bottom-six guys that were key guys in antagonizing us are gone and they've had some new, younger guys step up. And, we're a much different team in here. We've got some different guys that came in and plugged holes, but mentally we're a lot different, too."

Daniel Sedin: "Our motivation is just to win the whole thing, so for us it doesn't matter who we're playing. We know through 82 games we were the best team and we have to bring the same effort and style of play into the postseason."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.13.2011 / 4:25 PM

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

Johnson had a feeling

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- After a 4-3 loss on home ice to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon some felt the Blackhawks season was over, but not center Ryan Johnson.

Johnson had the feeling a meeting with his former mates, the Vancouver Canucks, was a certainty this spring. Prior to joining the Canucks, the Thunder Bay, Ont., native spent three seasons with the St. Louis Blues.

In his first season with the Canucks, the 2008-09 season, Johnson and his new teammates swept the Blues in their first-round matchup.

In the offseason Johnson joined the Blackhawks as a free agent after spending two injury-plagued seasons with the Canucks.

"I had a feeling about a month ago that this was going to happen," Johnson said. "I just had that feeling. When I came to Vancouver from St. Louis, I had this feeling I was going to play St. Louis in the first round, and it happened.

"I've kind of been preparing for it the last few weeks. Obviously it is an emotional deal coming back to a place where you played and against friends."

It wasn't until around 8:30 p.m. ET when the final buzzer sounded on the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild game in St. Paul, Minn., which the Stars lost 5-3 to the Wild.

The Stars' loss of course paved the way for the Blackhawks to sneak in as the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

"It was a long day, early game for us, it felt like the season was over and then things turned around in the afternoon and we’re back in it," forward Patrick Sharp said. "It's a great feeling, a great accomplishment to be in the playoffs -- we're excited about it and can't wait to get it started."

With Game 1 now just hours away, Sharp admits it's time to make use of this second opportunity.

"We're focused on what we need to do," he said. "We got to play a good, patient game here to start things off. It's going to be loud, it's going to be fast, and we're excited about it."

In Johnson's mind this is what the playoffs are all about.

"It's exciting. I think it's a great thing for these two teams to meet for a third time and the fans love it," he said. "There should be a lot of energy and it should be a blast."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.13.2011 / 3:42 PM

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

Luongo takes mornings off

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Canucks starting goaltender Roberto Luongo is up to his old tricks again electing not to speak with the media after morning skates on game day.

Taking game days off from dealing with the media is nothing new with Luongo, the Canucks starter did it at times during the 2010 playoffs including when he was inundated with questions regarding former Blackhawks forward Dustin Byfuglien.

"I'm a goalie and I want to be focused on stopping the puck on game days and that's pretty much it," he said after Tuesday's practice. "I know tons of goalies that don't do interviews on game days during the season so for me it's nothing but trying to put my whole focus on playing the game."

Luongo enters the playoffs riding his best goals-against average (.928) and save percentage (2.11) since joining the Canucks prior to the 2006-07 season. The 32-year-old is coming off a season in which the Canucks coaching staff closely monitored his games started and his teammates notice the difference.

"The calmness he shows on the ice, moving from side-to-side and rebounds are not there anymore," said captain Henrik Sedin. "He's a totally different guy from last year so it's fun to watch and he's saved us a lot of times."

As far as not speaking to the media on game days, Chicago Blackhawks veteran back-up Marty Turco had a good laugh. The Dallas Stars' 1994 fifth-round pick recalled not talking to the media on game days during his rookie season.

"I did it my first year," recalled Turco. "When I was young and new, but it wasn't my choice, but I did it. Whatever (Luongo) thinks. Someone told me I wasn't allowed to talk so I wasn't allowed to talk. I knew why, but I was young and it was not my choice at that point."

Turco has a career 21-26 record in the playoffs with four shutouts, a 2.17 GAA and a .914 save percentage all while playing with the Dallas Stars.

"Everything's always to be determined later," Turco continued. "You do what you think you got to do."
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Posted On Wednesday, 04.13.2011 / 2:49 PM

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

This was no rookie mistake

VANCOUVER -- Canucks rookie Cody Hodgson spent the morning before his first NHL playoff game working out off the ice while most of his veteran teammates were on the ice at Rogers Arena going through a typical morning skate.

What's this again? A rookie not skating the morning of Game 1? How dare he?

"It was an optional skate and I was just making sure everything is good for tonight so I'm ready to go," Hodgson said.

Yeah, but he had to catch some serious heat from his teammates, right? They couldn't possibly like the fact that this kid, all of 21 years old, didn't join them in the pre-game workout.

Not true.

"I talked to them (Tuesday) and made sure it was alright in playoff time, and I got a unanimous yes from every single person I asked," Hodgson said. "The guys I asked all said the same thing, 'Do what you need to do for playoffs.' "

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault certainly didn't mind that Hodgson chose to workout off the ice. Heck, Vigneault wasn't even on the ice Wednesday morning.

"For me, optionals are optionals," Vigneault said. "I'm just not a believer in morning skates. The twins usually don't go out. A player's job is to do what he believes is going to get him ready for that game at night. The players decide what is best for them and I respect that."

It's not as if Hodgson was lounging on the couch watching NHL Network. He was sweating as he spoke in front of his stall inside the Canucks' dressing room because he had just finished his rigorous dry land workout.

Hodgson has battled back issues in his short career and he said he has a routine that will allow him to loosen up and get ready for the game. His usual gameday routine does not include pregame skates.

"I just do a long workout before and with the pregame skates it can be a little much," he said. "I just take it the way I do everyday and I will be ready tonight. Obviously I worked hard the last couple of weeks preparing for this and I'm feeling ready already."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Quote of the Day

We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp