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Posted On Monday, 05.09.2011 / 3:09 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Edler coping with rough moments

Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler had the look of a downtrodden man on Monday after his team's morning skate. While Edler is minus-2 overall in the playoffs, he is even in the five games in this series with Nashville but has had some rough moments.

During the Canucks' morning skate on Monday, he had a new defense partner -- the defensively sound veteran Sami Salo. Edler had a turnover in Game 5 that led to one of the goals by the Preds' Joel Ward and also, bizarrely, batted a puck into his own net after Nashville's David Legwand, who was behind the goal, flipped it over the net in Edler's direction.

Also, in Game 3, Legwand stripped Edler of the puck behind the net and then Legwand scored a shorthanded goal. After that game, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said it was an "easy call" to remove Edler from the power play and put Mikael Samuelsson back out there because Edler allowed himself to be stripped of the puck.

Samuelsson is injured and did not travel to Nashville for Game 6 so it will be interesting to see how much power play time, if any at all, Edler gets. Vancouver has allowed two shorthanded goals in this series.

Faced with the change, Edler said the right things but being taken off a pair with his usual partner Christian Ehrhoff, who is tied for the lead in scoring among all NHL defensemen in the playoffs with nine points, he acted more as if he were being punishment.

"Well, he's been out a lot this year, but I played with him a lot last year and I think we played very good last year, so it's nothing really new," Edler said of Salo. "We've been playing on the same team for a long time, so…"

Edler was asked how good Nashville has been on the forecheck.

"They're coming hard, but, I mean," he sighed audibly, "they're coming hard one, two, three guys, so it's so important that we go back hard and a lot of communication."

Then he was asked whether he is comfortable moving the puck against such pressure.

"Yeah, I mean, it's not easy every time but sometimes you got to eat it," he said. "Sometimes when you feel like you move it, you got to move it."

Vigneault did not confirm that the pairing would be changed, saying not to put too much in what reporters saw on the ice. However, Edler did say, "yeah, it looks like it, play with Sami."
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Posted On Monday, 05.09.2011 / 2:30 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Ice conditions could play a role in Game 6

After defeating Anaheim in six games in the first round, the Predators organization took steps to prepare for the possibility that the local weather might turn hot for the Western Conference Semifinals.

It happened. By 1 p.m. Central time on Monday, the temperature had reached 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Some local forecasts have the temperature getting as high 90.

As recently as last week in Nashville for Games 3 and 4, the overnight lows dipped into the 30s.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz was hopeful that dehumidifiers that the organization installed on top of Bridgestone Arena would help the conditions, but he wasn't 100 percent sure.

"This morning, good," Trotz said of the ice conditions after his team's morning skate, "because it's still not 89, which it's going to get up to today, and you don't have 17,000 people coming into the building and heating it up, so right now the ice conditions are good. I think it was a much needed move by the organization that we have the dehumidifiers on top of the building. We probably didn't need it the first couple of games, but it's been traditionally cold here in Nashville so far through the playoffs but today's it's a regular Nashville day -- actually, a little hotter -- usually it's about 75 or 76 this time of year and it's going to be 89, so I think we're going to do everything possible to keep the ice as good as we can.

"But 17,000 people and 89 or 90 degrees outside, that's going to be hard to keep it perfect."
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Posted On Monday, 05.09.2011 / 12:05 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Predators know they can win

NASHVILLE -- The Predators belief system is stronger than ever. They know they're up against it again Monday night, down 3-2 in the series and facing elimination for the second time, but they also know for sure now that they can beat the Canucks, that Game 2 wasn't a fluke.

"Absolutely, we truly believe that we can beat these guys," goalie Pekka Rinne said. "We've shown that we can beat these guys. We can do it."

They did it in Game 5 by a 4-3 margin, but the Canucks helped them by committing three agregious turnovers that led to goals and punching another one into the net for an own-goal.

Mike Fisher says he doesn't believe the Canucks will make the same, or as many, mistakes in Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena tonight, but that doesn't mean the Predators belief system is cracked.

"We know we can beat them if we do the right things and play our game," Fisher said. "That being said, they are going to come out strong tonight. We expect a hungry, desperate team and they don't want to go to a Game 7. That has to bring the best out of us. It's going to be a lot harder than Game 5, that's for sure. We have to grind it out here at home."

Fisher was also asked if he believes critics are surprised the Predators are still in this series?

"Maybe some people, but we're obviously not," he said. "We're in this series, but we're against the wall tonight and we'll see how we respond.

"It just comes down to work, and we have to outwork them tonight."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Saturday, 05.07.2011 / 2:26 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Hodgson learning despite limited time

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Rookie Cody Hodgson has played in six of Vancouver's 11 playoff games and only twice reached double digits in minutes. He's played the last two games against Nashville, but totaled just 11 minutes and 12 seconds of ice time.

Still, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said he appreciates the way Hodgson is handling his limited role and believes he's shown some good signs of being a useful player now, not just in the future.

"Cody is coming along," Vigneault said. "This is a big stage and he's getting an opportunity to play a couple of minutes here and there, but he's shown that he's a smart player. He understands the game at both ends of the rink and I think he's only going to get better."

Vigneault hesitated when he was asked if he thinks Hodgson will be better off as a result of the minimal role he has with the Canucks now.

"I think there are some benefits to playing in the American League, playing big minutes in those pressure situations, just as I think there are benefits to being here and getting used to the surroundings, getting used to the attention," Vigneault said. "I can see benefits on both sides really."

So why is he here instead of with the Manitoba Moose, who are still playing in the Calder Cup Playoffs?

Well, out of necessity, really.

"We needed him," Vigneault said. "When Manny (Malhotra) went down (with a season-ending eye injury) and the end of the season occurred, we thought (Hodgson) could be one of the 12 forwards we could use. That's it."

He has an assist and is a minus-3, but the Canucks are at least getting some use out of him.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.03.2011 / 3:20 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Salo close to return

Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo has not played since April 24, injured in Game 6 against Chicago in the first round, but on Monday he practiced with his team at Bridgestone Arena.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault pronounced the 36-year-old Finn "day to day." Long after the Canucks had finished speaking to the media and after Vigneault also had done so, a throng of reporters waited to speak to Salo, fifth among the team's defensemen in time-on-ice per game during the regular season at 20:20.

But he didn't say much.

"I feel pretty good and I've been improving the last few days, which is a good sign," Salo said.

Asked if he could play on Tuesday, Salo said, "We'll decided tomorrow but day-to-day is a good assessment."

Salo would not parse his "day-to-day" statement, saying "it's not 51 or 49 percent."

However, as to whether he would play in one of the two games in Nashville, Salo said, "probably at some point" but that "it's tough to pinpoint when."

When Vigneault was asked to assess his third defense pair of Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts, he did not give them roaring approval.

"I thought they had their moments where they looked all right," he said. "Some of their decisions put them in a little bit trouble."

Rome was on ice with Keith Ballard when Vancouver allowed the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 2.

Assistant coach Rick Bowness said following the team's optional skate that Salo would be a "game-time decision" and would not elaborate beyond that.
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.03.2011 / 1:10 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Loverboy singer finds new hit with Canucks

As the lead singer of popular 80's group, Loverboy, Mike Reno has enjoyed top-ten singles, best-selling albums, sold-out arenas, and every other rock-star perk. He never expected that writing a theme song for a Stanley-Cup contender would someday become part of the deal. A longtime Canucks fan, Reno has added a chapter to his music career with "Flying High," a new song that may have become his latest hit, at least within the confines of Rogers Arena.

The host of "The Bro Jake Show" on Vancouver's Classic Rock 101 radio station, Reno was inspired to write the song after Vancouver's stirring seven-game series win over Chicago. The song was then quickly posted on the Canucks' web site and has since become part of the team's playoff push. "Hopefully, the song can follow the Canucks all the way to the championship," says Reno. "You never know. We might just play it in concert. Why not?"

"Flying High" can be heard here.
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Posted On Monday, 05.02.2011 / 6:02 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Salo practices, remains 'day-to-day'

Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo has not played since getting injured April 24 in Game 6 against Chicago in the first round, but on Monday he practiced with his team at Bridgestone Arena.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault pronounced the 36-year-old Finn as "day-to-day."

Long after Vigneault and the Canucks had finished speaking to the media, a throng of reporters waited to speak to Salo, fifth among the team's defensemen in average ice time during the regular season at 20:20. But he didn't say much.

"I feel pretty good and I've been improving the last few days, which is a good sign," Salo said.

Asked if he could play on Tuesday, Salo said, "We'll decide tomorrow, but day-to-day is a good assessment."

Salo would not parse his "day-to-day" statement, saying "it's not 51 or 49 percent."

However, as to whether he would play in one of the two games in Nashville, Salo said, "probably at some point" but that "it's tough to pinpoint when."

When Vigneault was asked to assess his third defense pair of Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts, he did not give them roaring approval.

"I thought they had their moments where they looked all right," he said. "Some of their decisions put them in a little bit trouble."

Rome was on ice with Keith Ballard when Vancouver allowed the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 2.

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Posted On Friday, 04.29.2011 / 1:24 AM

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

Ballard clips Tootoo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballard wasn't protesting the call.

"I hit him at the knees, he called the penalty and that's the way it goes, the guys did a great job killing it," he said. "It's not my call, they have a hard job to do and they do a pretty good job."
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Posted On Thursday, 04.28.2011 / 3:53 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 WCSF: Vancouver-Nashville Live Blog

Trotz learns why opponent matters

Barry Trotz has been in this game for a long time and has been the coach of the Nashville Predators since they were born in 1997. But, this week, for the first time in his NHL career, he had to refocus his team on the next opponent in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Trotz found out that it isn't so easy to do, especially when you finish a series early and wind up waiting to find out who you're going to play next.

"Our first practice back after taking a day off we didn't know who we were going to play and I didn't like our practice, I didn't like our focus because we had no focus, we had no opponent," he said Thursday morning. "Our mentality changed once we found out who we were playing. We found out it was Vancouver and our mentality as a team changed right away.

"So, I learned something the other day on a little bit about the playoffs. You need an opponent to be focused, and we didn't have that. Once we did we were a changed team. Now we're looking forward to the challenge."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 04.28.2011 / 3:50 PM

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

O’Brien and Bieksa

Nashville Predators defenseman Shane O'Brien was a treat to have, from a media perspective, during his two years in Vancouver. He never met a microphone he didn't like, got himself in hot water with coaches and management from time to time, and his off-ice antics were well documented.


To no ones surprise O'Brien was the center of attention in the Predators room Thursday morning as Nashville and Vancouver prepare for their first ever playoff match-up, which gets going tonight at Rogers Arena.


Current Canuck defenseman Kevin Bieksa spent time paired with O'Brien during the 27-year-old's first season in Vancouver and has already been warned by Alain Vigneault not to get in a war of words with O'Brien through the media.


"I haven't talked to him at all," Bieksa said. "I was told not to make this series a spectacle like last one with me and John Scott. I'll let him throw the first dagger."


Apparently the conversation between Bieksa and Vigneault was not to be talked about either.


"I had a conversation with Kevin about that? Is that what he said," questioned Vigneault during his morning presser. "I won't get into the specifics of that. That's a private conversation."


It's clear the gag order won't be on for two long between the two former teammates.


"As soon as Shane O'Brien says his first quote that rubs us the wrong way -- then it's on," Bieksa added.


For his part O'Brien took a quick jab and then turned his answer back to the real focus -- the series between the Canucks and Predators.


"Yeah Juice (Bieksa) – that guy was on TV more than I was when I played here now," O'Brien said laughing. "But I'm a Nashville Predator now and it's been a good year, I've learned a lot. I'd be lying if I said I'm not excited to play my former team and have an opportunity here to knock them out of the playoffs."


O'Brien tried to tell the media that he hadn't had any discussions with coach Barry Trotz regarding his former teammates.


"I think I let the coaches do that mostly," he said, attempting to turn away from the question. "There might be some tidbits here or there, but I'm not going to share my secrets with you guys. I know I give you a lot, but I'm not going to give you that much."


All joking aside, Trotz has seen a steady growth in the guy his teammates call 'OB'.

"I've heard all the things about Shane, his time in Vancouver. He's matured a lot," said Trotz. I think there is a young man who is growing on the ice and off the ice.

"Our game matures at different rates. I tell our young players the Andrew Brunette story. You're not going to make it to the NHL and always have your game in order when you're 19 or 20-years-old, but when you're 25 or 26, 27, your life and your game comes into some order. A lot of people wrote Andrew Brunette off for a long time, but 15-years later he's still playing"
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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season