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Posted On Tuesday, 05.24.2011 / 8:47 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Sharks jumble top three lines for Game 5

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Of all the potential changes that were possible for both teams heading into Game 5 of the Western Conference, the Canucks are the only team making a lineup change and it's a small one at that with Victor Oreskovich going in to play right wing on the fourth line for Alex Bolduc.

However, the Sharks showed three new forward lines in warm-ups for the first time in the series. Only their fourth line with Jamie McGinn, Andrew Desjardins and Jamal Mayers remained in tact.

It appears Logan Couture will move up to play Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton on the top line. Joe Pavelski will center the second line between Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi. Dany Heatley, who hasn't produced in the series, is now on the third line with Kyle Wellwood and Torrey Mitchell.

These were the same lines that the Sharks used in the third period of Game 4, when they ripped 17 shots at Roberto Luongo and scored two goals.

Vancouver defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome are both still out with injuries, so the Canucks' third pairing will again be Keith Ballard on the left side and Chris Tanev on the right.

San Jose defenseman Jason Demers is also not in the lineup despite saying Tuesday morning that he is 100 percent ready to go after overcoming some bumps and bruises in his upper body that kept him out of the first four games of the series.

Here are the lines and defensive pairings that each team showed in pre-game warmups:

SAN JOSE

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Logan Couture
Ryane Clowe - Joe Pavelski - Devin Setoguchi
Torrey Mitchell - Kyle Wellwood - Dany Heatley
Jamie McGinn - Andrew Desjardins - Jamal Mayers

Dan Boyle - Douglas Murray
Ian White - Niclas Wallin
Kent Huskins - Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki

VANCOUVER

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mason Raymond
Raffi Torres - Maxim Lapierre - Jannik Hansen
Tanner Glass - Cody Hodgson - Victor Oreskovich

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alex Edler - Sami Salo
Keith Ballard - Chris Tanev

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 05.23.2011 / 12:54 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Boyle on 5-on-5 dominance, surprising outcome

Dan Boyle is by far the most honest quote in the Sharks locker room, always speaking his mind about his play and what's happening with the team.

On Monday, he said the mood of the team was good after they spent Sunday night pouting about the 4-2 loss in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final that left the Sharks in a 3-1 series hole with Game 5 set for Tuesday night in Vancouver.

Boyle said after he watched a replay of the game when he got home Sunday night, he was a little stunned by the fact the Sharks utterly dominated the Canucks at 5-on-5, yet were basically playing out the final minutes of a blowout loss during the third period.

"I was pretty upset last night, and I watched the replay of the game when I got home," Boyle said. "It was more frustrating than anything. They had seven 5-on-5 shots. If you had asked me before the game started if they would have that many shots, I would've taken it obviously."

Of course, a record three 5-on-3 goals would submarine any team, no matter how well they played at 5-on-5. That's why Boyle believes the Sharks shouldn't be written off entering Game 5.

"We have to be optimistic," Boyle said. "That's what we have to do."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Sunday, 05.22.2011 / 10:09 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Record setting day for Canucks

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It was a record-setting day for the Vancouver Canucks. Here is some of what they were able to accomplish in their 4-2 win over San Jose in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals:

* Vancouver set an NHL postseason record for most 5-on-3 goals scored in a single playoff game (3).

* The Canucks' three power play goals were scored in a span of one minute and 55 seconds, which is a new team record for fastest three goals in playoff history. It's also a record for the fastest three power play goals scored in NHL playoff history since the current power play rule came into play in 1957.

Prior to 1957, the penalized player was not allowed to leave the box after a goal was scored. The Red Wings and Canadiens scored three power play goals in a span of 56 seconds in 1954, but that was under the old rule.

* Sami Salo's pair of goals 16 seconds apart is a Canucks' playoff record for fastest two goals. Since they were both on the power play, Salo also tied Larry Murphy's NHL record for fastest two power play goals in the playoffs since 1957.

Bernie Geoffrion scored two power play goals 12 seconds apart under the old rule in 1955.

* Henrik Sedin's four assists gives him the team's single-game record for most assists in a playoff game. His three assists in the second period is also a new team record for most assists in a period.

* While this record isn't listed in Vancouver's playoff media guide, you have to assume that their 75 percent shooting in the second period (3 goals on four shots) has got to be one.

* The Canucks also set a record for fewest shots in a playoff game with 13, but that didn't matter.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Sunday, 05.22.2011 / 3:00 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Lineups for Game 4

Vancouver defensemen Keith Ballard and rookie Chris Tanev are going to get their chance Sunday afternoon to prove to coach Alain Vigneault he need not worry if the injuries to Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome are indeed of the serious variety.

Ballard and Tanev will make up the Canucks' third defensive pair in Game 4 against San Jose at HP Pavilion. Ehrhoff and Rome were both injured in Game 3 and their statuses have not been updated by the team, but it's believed Rome is more banged up than Ehrhoff, who is likely out with a shoulder injury.

Ballard, who is making $4.2 million this season, has been a healthy scratch for seven straight games while Tanev will be making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut. Ballard has suited up in seven playoff games this spring and has no points and four penalty minutes. Tanev, who played 29 games in the regular season, was recently called up after the Manitoba Moose were eliminated from the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Vigneault said Saturday that he has complete faith in Ballard despite knocking him down the depth chart as the season progressed. Ballard said he would understand if Vigneault doesn't have confidence in him because he's been inconsistent in his first year with the Canucks.

Ballard said he wasn't looking at Sunday's game as his opportunity to erase the bitter taste of a rough first season in Vancouver, but if he plays well a lot of what has happened to him would be forgotten for the time being. He just wants to play well to help the team win.

Since Tanev is a righty, Ballard can play on the left side, where he is more comfortable. Vigneault chose to play Tanev over Alberts likely because he is a righty. Alberts is a lefty and if he were in, Ballard would have to move to the right side.

Vancouver also has a change in its forward lines with Cody Hodgson drawing back in for Victor Oreskovich. Hodgson was scratched for Game 3 in favor of Alex Bolduc, but now he will be back on the fourth line with Bolduc and Tanner Glass.

The Sharks will be using the same lineup that was good enough to win Game 3, meaning Ben Eager, Scott Nichol and Ben Ferriero remain as scratches while Jamie McGinn, Andrew Desjardins and Jamal Mayers retain their spots on the fourth line. Jason Demers will miss his fourth straight game with an undisclosed injury.

Here are the rest of the lines, defensive pairings and goaltenders for Game 4:

VANCOUVER

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows

Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mason Raymond

Raffi Torres - Maxim Lapierre - Jannik Hansen

Tanner Glass - Cody Hodgson - Alex Bolduc

 
Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa

Sami Salo - Alex Edler

Keith Ballard - Chris Tanev

 
Roberto Luongo

Cory Schneider

 
SAN JOSE

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Devin Setoguchi

Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Dany Heatley

Torrey Mitchell - Joe Pavelski - Kyle Wellwood

Jamie McGinn - Andrew Desjardins - Jamal Mayers


Dan Boyle - Douglas Murray

Niclas Wallin - Ian White

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Kent Huskins

 
Antti Niemi

Antero Niittymaki

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Saturday, 05.21.2011 / 7:23 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Q&A with Joe Pavelski

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- I caught up with Sharks center Joe Pavelski today after San Jose's workout at Sharks Ice. We chatted for a few minutes and here is a transcript of our discussion.

Do you believe that momentum can carry over from one game to the next in the playoffs?

"There definitely are swings throughout games. One game to the next? I would say there has got to be a little bit, but you can squash it pretty quick as soon as the puck drops. I don't think there is all that much from puck drop to puck drop. I think you can re-establish and you have to re-establish yourself from game to game."

So, who carries that little bit of momentum into Game 4? Your team won, but they scored two late goals to make it interesting.

"Well, see, that's the thing. You have to re-establish it because it's a new game, guys are going to make different plays and certain players are going to have the puck a little bit more than others."

When Patrick Marleau gets on a streak like he is on right now with 5 goals in four games, do you notice things that he does in his game that are different from what he does when he's not going well?

"No, not really, not a whole lot. I mean, he seems to play the same way. He might be a little more engaged at times, but when he is scoring goals he is definitely moving good."

Their 'D' got beat up yesterday and two guys might not play. Does that affect you guys in any way?

"I'm sure they're going to have players that step in and are going to be ready to fill a challenge as we will too if someone gets hurt. From that case we can't let our game slip at all. It has to get better."

What do you think about the leads in the playoffs? Boston had a 3-0 lead against Tampa today and they lost 5-3. You guys had a 4-1 lead going into the final 10 minutes in the third period last night and had to hang on to win 4-3. Is nothing safe?

"Yeah, it happens fast, especially when you have power plays and you have to kill off five minutes. The score can change in a hurry. We've seen it all throughout playoffs so we have to keep pushing, keep guys down and find a way to get that next goal."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Saturday, 05.21.2011 / 3:07 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Even strength has been a problem for Sharks

While the Sharks used their power play to pull themselves back into the series in Game 3, their 5-on-5 play is one of the reasons they are still trailing the Canucks 2-1.

Of the eight goals scored by the Sharks in this series, just two have been at even strength. One of those goals was from Ben Eager in Game 2. It cut the lead from 7-2 to 7-3 in the final minutes of the third period.

In Game 3, the Sharks had 19 shots on the power play, 18 at even strength.

Players know they need to be better in Game 4, because the 10 power-play chances they received in Game 3 aren't coming again.

"Of course we'd like to step up the 5-on-5 play as far as goals are concerned," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "But we just have to find a way to win a hockey game. So far it's been the speciality team battle. But our 5-on-5 needs to keep getting better."

Captain Joe Thornton said the key to finding themselves at even strength is to maintain discipline.

"Stay out of the penalty box," Thornton said. "We feel comfortable 5-on-5. If we stay out of the box, we'll get some more 5-on-5 play."

With the two goals scored by the Canucks during a 5-minute major in Game 3, they've had 17 power-play chances in three games and 14 in the past two. The special teams have been a major part of this series, but Ryane Clowe knows 5-on-5 needs to be a focus for the Sharks.

"Last night, the game had a lot of special teams and the 5-on-5 play was tough to get a rhythm," Clowe said. "If we can keep that going next game, get a little more 5-on-5, less PK, we'll be good."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Saturday, 05.21.2011 / 2:40 PM

By Eric Gilmore -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Sharks stick to the plan

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Sharks had stressed the importance of staying out of the penalty box Friday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals after getting scorched by Daniel and Henrik Sedin on the power play in a Game 2 loss to Vancouver.
 
That plan worked to perfection for the Sharks in the first period as they built a 3-0 lead. Then the second period began, and the penalties returned. In a span of less than nine minutes, the Sharks were hit with four penalties, as Joe Pavelski, Andrew Desjardins, Joe Thornton and Desjardins again paraded to the penalty box.
 
But instead of having another penalty kill meltdown, the Sharks prevailed during that critical stretch. They killed all four of those second-period penalties, including two when the Canucks had 5-on-3 advantages. And instead of blowing part or all of their lead, which their leaky penalty kill in Game 2 suggested they might do, the Sharks took their 3-0 edge into the third period and held on for a 4-3 win.
 
During most of that 5-on-3 time, Pavelski and defensemen Douglas Murray and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were on the ice with goaltender Antti Niemi.
 
Pavelski, Murray and Vlasic formed a tight triangle of bodies in front of Niemi. The shots that did get past that wall, Niemi handled.
 
"It's tough," Vlasic said. "You're just trying to stay in a small triangle, blocking all the shots, getting in lanes. Murray and Pavelski blocked five each, I think. So it was huge. They're going up and down. I'm going side to side, just getting in lanes, and Nemo made a nice save once or twice. We limited their chances 5-on-3, but guys did a great job blocking shots."
 
Murray had five blocks for the game, while Pavelski had three and Vlasic two.
 
"Obviously you can't cover everything," Murray said. "You've just got to block as many shots as you can when they're taking them. I think we did a good job of that. Whatever went through, Nemo took care of."
 
The key to the Sharks' success against Vancouver's 5-on-3 onslaught was for the defensemen to stay in a tight group in front of Niemi, Murray said.
 
"If you spread it out too much you can't recover and they can make plays through the box," Murray said. "We're trying to make sure – I mean somebody's going to be open, it's 5-on-3 – whatever shots they're taking we can block them or Nemo doesn't move too much side to side. Tried to make it as easy of shots as possible."
 
In Game 2, Vancouver had three power play goals in seven chances, with Daniel Sedin scoring twice with the man advantage, and Henrik Sedin assisting on both goals.
 
"It was great adjustment there on the 5-on 3," Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. "They were bombing away. It's tough to get too much done when you've only got three guys, so all you've got to do is hope and block shots, and that's what we did."
 
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Posted On Friday, 05.20.2011 / 9:10 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Eager sits out in Game 3

After talking up Ben Eager's importance following his six-penalty performance in Game 2, Sharks coach Todd McLellan has apparently had a change of heart because the bruising fourth-liner who lost his cool Wednesday night will not play in Game 3 for San Jose.

The Sharks' fourth line is instead a grouping of Jamie McGinn, Andrew Desjardins and Jamal Mayers -- three guys who did not play in Game 2. McGinn last played in Game 6 against Detroit while Desjardins will be making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut as the center on the Sharks' fourth line.

McLellan was high in his praise of Eager's game following Wednesday's 7-3 loss, saying he likes what the grinding winger brings in terms of energy and physicality -- but the downside, of course, is when he parades himself to the penalty box like he did in Game 2.

The Canucks also have two changes on their fourth line, as Alex Bolduc has gone from Black Ace to fourth-line center in a matter of days. He replaces rookie Cody Hodgson, who played in six straight games. Tanner Glass has drawn back in on the left side for Jeff Tambellini, who played in Game 2 because Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was looking for some speed.

Clearly Vigneault is going the physical rout because with Victor Oreskovich, Bolduc and Glass will give the Canucks a massive and tough fourth line. It all may have been a ploy to counter Eager, but he is not playing.

Here are the rest of the lines and defensive pairings that were shown during pre-game warm-ups:

SAN JOSE

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Dany Heatley
Kyle Wellwood - Joe Pavelski - Torrey Mitchell
Jamie McGinn - Andrew Desjardins - Jamal Mayers

Dan Boyle - Douglas Murray
Niclas Wallin - Ian White
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Kent Huskins

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki

VANCOUVER

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mason Raymond
Raffi Torres - Maxim Lapierre - Jannik Hansen
Tanner Glass - Alex Bolduc - Victor Oreskovich

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Christian Ehrhoff - Aaron Rome
Sami Salo - Alex Edler

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 05.20.2011 / 11:09 AM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

McLellan says Sharks are missing Demers

Jason Demers isn't a No. 1 defenseman or even a No. 2 for the San Jose Sharks. Yet his absence during the first two games of this series has had an impact on the team.

Just ask coach Todd McLellan.

"It has," McLellan said Friday morning. "Our belief in Jason and his ability is very strong.  He's played a very key role in our team play this year.  He's an offensive guy with very good eyes and very good hands, thinks the game creatively."

Demers' injury has forced McLellan to use Kent Huskins during Games 1 and 2. Huskins hadn't played since Feb. 19 and doesn't possess the same offensive skills of Demers.

"Huskins is a different player," McLellan said. "When you put Kent in, it changes. He's a defender. He's more about staying at home and playing in a smaller sheet of ice than the bigger sheet. So it does change the dynamic somewhat.  You have to ask others to do a little bit more in offensive situations.  But it's not the end of the world."

Put a period on it -- Of late, the Sharks have been struggling in the third period. During the first round against the Kings, the Sharks were dominated during the first period.'

Instead of seeing it as a negative, McLellan put a positive spin on it.

"If we're fortunate enough to move on and get to play, then we may even be talking about the second period," McLellan cracked.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 5:20 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Boyle: Sharks giving Sedins too much respect

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It's important to respect your opponent. But Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle thinks it's gone a little too far during the Western Conference Final.

"There's a little too much respect," Boyle said Thursday. "I think it's important to have respect for guys like the Sedins, but I think we're giving them too much."

Respect could be a synonym for space when Boyle talks about it. Is that something done knowingingly, or is it a sub-conscious thing that players might not realizing they're doing?

"That had a so-called quiet series last series, and no one expected that to happen this time around," Boyle said. "There's been a little too much respect. I think at home we'll have a little bit of ... the matchups will probably be a little bit better. I think when those guys are given that extra little foot, they can take advantage of it."

Sharks captain Joe Thornton feels it's important to give the Canucks respect, but agrees with Boyle that too much is a problem.

"We gave L.A. their respect, Detroit their respect and now Vancouver," Thornton said. "They did what they're supposed to do -- win two games at home. Now we gotta do what we're supposed to do -- win two games at our home."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Thursday, 05.19.2011 / 2:10 AM

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

Highlights of the night

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

Here are some of the highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.18.2011 / 10:26 PM

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

Samuelsson update Thursday?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.18.2011 / 8:47 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Tambellini, Ferriero draw in for Game 2

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Both the Sharks and Canucks are making changes to their fourth lines for Game 2 tonight.

As expected, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault is using Jeff Tambellini. After being a scratch in Game 1, Tambellini is replacing Tanner Glass, who did not skate in warm-ups with the Canucks.

Tambellini will be playing only his second playoff game this year and second of his career. He made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in Game 6 at Nashville and made a critical defensive play against Martin Erat late in the second period to help preserve the Canucks' 2-1 lead that wound up being the final score.

He will play on the left side of center Cody Hodgson and right wing Victor Oreskovich.

"It's a great opportunity, we're in a good spot so far, I'm just looking to add to what the guys did in Game 1," Tambellini said this morning. "We have a line with Cody in the middle is a guy that can make a really good play and is a reliable centerman, he's got a lot of energy. Hopefully I can bring an element of speed to that and really try to them (the Sharks) in their zone as much as we can."

Ben Ferriero is replacing Jamal Mayers on the Sharks' fourth line and will be in a right wing role beside center Scott Nichol and left wing Ben Eager. Ferriero played all seven games against Detroit, contributing a goal and six penalty minutes.

Sharks defenseman Jason Demers is again a scratch. He was not on the ice for warmups.

Demers was a surprise scratch in Game 1 after playing in all 13 games over the first two rounds of the playoffs. He did not skate Tuesday in the Sharks' full practice at the University of British Columbia and was not on the ice in their optional skate at Rogers Arena this morning.

The team has remained mum on what may ail Demers, if he has an injury at all. Kent Huskins, who played Sunday for the first time since Feb. 19, will again be paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic to start the game.

Here are the rest of the lineups for Game 2, including the line combinations, defensive pairs and goaltending depth, which, of course, is still the same:

SAN JOSE


Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Dany Heatley
Kyle Wellwood - Joe Pavelski - Torrey Mitchell
Ben Eager - Scott Nichol - Ben Ferriero

Dan Boyle - Douglas Murray
Ian White - Niclas Wallin
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Kent Huskins

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki

VANCOUVER

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mason Raymond
Raffi Torres - Maxim Lapierre - Jannik Hansen
Jeff Tambellini - Cody Hodgson - Victor Oreskovich

Dan Hamuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alex Edler - Sami Salo
Aaron Rome - Christian Ehrhoff

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.18.2011 / 3:25 PM

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

Sharks know they must shoot to score

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"If the puck is not on your tape, you can't shoot it," he said. "We feel at this time of the year, you look at the (Tampa Bay-Boston) game last night, pucks going to the net from everywhere. 
 
"It's very hard to defend a shot. If it comes off a goaltender, nobody knows where it's going. It's easier to be on the offensive than the defensive. The more it gets there, the more opportunities you have to play in the opposition's end."
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.18.2011 / 2:31 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Burrows enjoyed playing dad, set for Game 2

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Alex Burrows wasn't complaining about having two days off between Games 1 and 2. It allowed him to be a daddy for a little while.

Burrows' wife Nancy gave birth to the couple's first child, Victoria, on April 27 at B.C. Women's Hospital. It was the day after he scored the biggest goal of his career and one of the biggest in Canucks' history, the overtime winner in Game 7 against Chicago.

He didn't have much time to celebrate the momentous occasion because less than 24 hours after Victoria was born, the Canucks were playing Game 1 against Nashville. It's been a whirlwind since then for Burrows, but he said his wife has been phenomenal and their families are still visiting from Montreal so they can help out with all the household chores.

"I try to help out as much as I can in the afternoon by changing diapers and cooking dinner, that kind of stuff," Burrows told NHL.com, "but (Nancy) knows once 9:30 or 10 o'clock comes around, the spare bedroom is mine and I'm going to bed."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.17.2011 / 8:17 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Thornton challenged, Kesler said no way

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Joe Thornton wanted to get the series off to a bang, so before the puck even dropped in Game 1 he verbally challenged Ryan Kesler to a fight. Kesler didn't oblige and Thornton was kicked out of the circle, but the two admitted Tuesday that it did happen.

"Opening draw last game, Thornton asked me to fight," Kesler said. "I'm not going to engage in that, I'm not going to respond to that. He can talk to me all he wants and he's not going to get anything from me."

When asked why he did it, Thornton said, "Why not?"

"I assume, let's fight," Thornton said smiling. "Let's start the series off with a bang. That's about it."

Was he surprised that Kesler was not a willing combatant?

"No," Thornton said, laughing now.

Well, then was he trying to channel his inner Dave Schultz?

"No, I'm not that tough," Thornton said. "He's competitive. I like playing against competitive guys. It makes you elevate your game.  You want to win every inch out there. It's a great battle."
   
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.17.2011 / 7:12 PM

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

Twitter not for 'Juice'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted On Monday, 05.16.2011 / 7:16 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Jumbo's captaincy started last spring

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Todd McLellan gave a bit of an explanation as to why Joe Thornton was named the Sharks' captain prior to this season when he was asked a question about Jumbo Joe on Monday.

Here is what he had to say:

"I thought last year he showed real good signs of growth, the ability to lead the team. As a result when we were looking at our vacant captaincy, he proved to us in the playoffs last year that he was a real good candidate. We picked him and throughout the year he's had an excellent season. Many will say his numbers are down, which they obviously are, but ultimately I think the results are up when you look at Jumbo's play. That may sound strange, but I truly believe he's come a long way. His leadership ability in the locker room is very strong. I think he does it as much by example now on the ice as he does it verbally in the locker room, so he's come a long, long way."

Thornton had a goal and an assist in Game 1 and now has 13 points in 14 playoff games this season. He finished the regular season with 70 points in 80 games, his lowest offensive output since he had 68 points in 2001-02 with the Bruins.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 05.16.2011 / 6:56 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Was Douglas Murray ever small?

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Daniel Sedin watched Ryan Kesler try to skate over Douglas Murray in Game 1. He had to cringe when he saw Kesler get stood up like he was skating into a tank.

Sedin recalls playing with Murray in Sweden when the two were younger. Daniel was smaller, but Murray?

"Big. He was a man was he was 12," Daniel said Monday. "He was a big guy back then, too."

And knew how to inflict some pain even without trying, sort of like he does now, or like he did to Kesler on Sunday.

"How much does he weigh, 300 pounds?" Daniel said jokingly of Murray, who checks in at 6-3 and 240 pounds. "He's a big guy and he uses that to his advantage. I think it hurts every time you run into him. It doesn't have to be a big hit on him to get hurt."
 
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Posted On Monday, 05.16.2011 / 12:56 AM

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

Highlights of the night

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

Here are some of the highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted On Sunday, 05.15.2011 / 7:51 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Huskins in, Demers out for Sharks in Game 1

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- San Jose has one big change in its lineup for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals as defenseman Kent Huskins has drawn back in and will play for the first time since Feb. 19. Huskins had been considered a healthy scratch in the playoffs save for Game 1 of the first round against Los Angeles.

Jason Demers is instead scratched for the Sharks. Demers, who played in all 13 games of the first round, was not on the ice for pre-game warm-ups. He had 2 goals and an assist over the first two rounds. Huskins will be paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Not surprisingly due to the potential physicality in this series and the size of the Sharks' forwards, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault has inserted Victor Oreskovich into the lineup for fourth-line duty with Cody Hodgson and Tanner Glass. Oreskovich last played in Game 2 against Nashville.

Oreskovich is playing instead of the injured Mikael Samuelsson and in place of the smaller Jeff Tambellini, who played in Game 6 against Nashville and likely would have been in if the Canucks were playing Detroit instead of the Sharks. Oreskovich is 6-3 and 215 pounds so his size and physicality could prove valuable against San Jose.

San Jose is keeping a bigger lineup up front as well and will use Jamal Mayers and Ben Eager on the fourth line with Scott Nichol.

Of course, Roberto Luongo will start in Vancouver's net and Antti Niemi will do the same for San Jose.

Here are the lines, defensive pairings and goaltenders from pre-game warm-ups:

SAN JOSE

Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Dany Heatley
Torrey Mitchell - Joe Pavelski - Kyle Wellwood
Ben Eager - Scott Nichol - Jamal Mayers

Dan Boyle - Douglas Murray
Ian White - Niclas Wallin
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Kent Huskins

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki

VANCOUVER

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows
Mason Raymond - Ryan Kesler - Chris Higgins
Raffi Torres - Maxim Lapierre - Jannik Hansen
Tanner Glass - Cody Hodgson - Victor Oreskovich

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa
Alex Edler - Sami Salo
Aaron Rome - Christian Ehrhoff

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider

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Posted On Sunday, 05.15.2011 / 1:56 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Canucks, Sharks looking for some special play

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The Canucks scored the game-winning goals in Games 3, 4 and 6 against Nashville on the power play.

San Jose's 51 power play opportunities are the most of any team in through two rounds.

The Canucks killed off 20 of 21 penalties against Nashville and finished the regular season with the League's third-ranked penalty kill and No. 1 power play.

San Jose was No. 2.

Yes, special teams will be huge in the Western Conference Finals. If one team gains the edge on both ends, it will probably advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

"They've got a lot of skill up front and they've got (Dan) Boyle on 'D', and he's one of the best power play defensemen in the League," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Sunday morning. "It's obviously not something I'd like to do, give them a lot of power plays."

The Sharks have converted only seven of their 51 power plays for a 13.7-percent success rate that is 13th in the NHL. The Canucks have allowed the opposition 50 power play chances, so the Sharks are likely going to get their share in this series as well and they have to be better.

"When you look at it from a numbers perspective, the 13 percent, 14 percent or wherever we're at, not very impressive," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "When you look at the goals we scored, the power play (goals), you have to be pretty pleased. It's won us some games, allowed us to move on."

Vancouver has converted on eight of 36 power plays, but just one of 18 on its home ice. San Jose has had its own discipline problems and has given up the opposition 52 power play chances. The Canucks need to take advantage, but they also need to keep the chances against down. They've given up a League-worst three shorthanded goals.

"I'm a big believer that when you close a series and you move on, you start with fresh numbers," McLellan said. "We have a huge challenge ahead of us, because they're a very good penalty-killing team, obviously the best in the League. We expect our power play to have an impact on the series."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Saturday, 05.14.2011 / 6:39 PM

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

Bieksa throws dagger at Wellwood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You're on the clock Mr. Wellwood...
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Posted On Saturday, 05.14.2011 / 6:08 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

Oreskovich might get back in

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Victor Oreskovich skated on the Canucks' fourth line with Tanner Glass and Cody Hodgson in Saturday's practice at Rogers Arena, but when asked afterwards if he is playing in Game 1 Sunday against San Jose, the 24-year-old physical forward said he doesn't know yet.

"We'll see what happens," Oreskovich told NHL.com. "Obviously I'd be real excited to play, but I haven't heard anything yet."

Oreskovich hasn't played since Game 2 against Nashville. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault used Jeff Tambellini instead of Oreskovich to replace the injured Mikael Samuelsson in Game 6 against the Predators. Samuelsson has been ruled out of Game 1, but Tambellini, whose speed allowed him to erase a breakaway opportunity for Martin Erat in Game 6, is an option.

However, it's possible (likely?) that Vigneault turns to the bigger Oreskovich, who is 6-3 and 215 pounds, to start the Western Conference Finals because the Sharks' forwards are much bigger across the board than the Predators.

"They do have a big strong team, some physical guys up front and physical guys on the back end," Oreskovich said. "I know what I have to bring if I'm in the lineup. I'd love to get that opportunity, but we'll see what happens."

If he does, chances are Oreskovich won't get much more than six or seven minutes of ice time depending on the flow of the game, especially if the Canucks are chasing the score.

Can he establish himself as a physical presence in such a short amount of time?

"It is tough because the guys are good in this League and they don't want to get hit, so finding those big hits isn't easy," Oreskovich said. "It's more about just eliminating guys out of the play, being defensively responsible and if that big hit is there it's there. You don't want to be running out of position just to get that big hit."

He does, however, want Vigneault to give him the chance to make some big hits.

"The coaches have told us all, the guys that aren't in the lineup, to be ready because you never know," Oreskovich said. "Tambellini hadn't played in a while and he came back and played in Nashville, played well and made a big play. You've got to be ready all the time."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Friday, 05.13.2011 / 1:02 PM

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

Canucks recall five from Manitoba

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Moose were eliminated from the Calder Cup playoffs of on Monday with a 2-1 triple overtime loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs in Game 7 of their second-round matchup.
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Posted On Friday, 05.13.2011 / 12:52 PM

By David Kalan -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 Western Conf. Final: Canucks-Sharks Blog

EA SPORTS picks Canucks-Bruins in Final

That mythical perfect March Madness bracket is virtually impossible to achieve, and yet for some reason most of us fill one out anyway. The Stanley Cup Playoffs may not have 68 teams in them with a one-and-done system, but predicting each series in the spring is still highly fickle business.

Even for a computer.

It didn't look like the folks at EA SPORTS were going to have that problem for a while, but eventually the dream had to end. Using their EA SPORTS NHL '11 simulation engine, the video game makers followed up their 8-for-8 first round by nearly tabbing another perfect set, and had Detroit pulled off the incredible Thursday night, they would have had just that. But San Jose's gutsy performance in Game 7 threw a wrench in the mix and gave EA SPORTS its first miss of the postseason.

Fortunately, however, this is no suicide pool, and Simulation Engine is getting a mulligan and a clean slate for the conference finals, particularly after EA SPORTS nearly made good on its prediction of three lower seeds advancing through the second round.

The third round doesn't provide the same kind of daring prognostication, but since EA SPORTS has gone 11-1 so far, questioning the simulation seems foolish, and if EA SPORTS has its druthers, Vancouver and Boston will be meeting to determine who will lift the Stanley Cup in 2011. The Canucks may be facing a San Jose team with an enormous emotional lift after holding off a potentially historic comeback, but according to the computers, Vancouver will overcome a home loss to the Sharks in Game 1 with two straight overtime victories and an eventual Western Conference title in six games.

According to EA SPORTS, the East will be decided in similar fashion, and be a closer series than some might expect, not because of its length but because of its scores. While the Bruins are pegged to grab the Prince of Wales Trophy in six games, two of their wins are slated to come in overtime, with Tampa Bay flashing some sudden-death heroics of its own to stay alive with an overtime win in Game 5 at TD Garden.

EA SPORTS will continue to run simulations after each round of the playoffs, but in addition fans are invited to make their own predictions in the EA SPORTS NHL 2011 Playoff Bracket Contest at www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL. Participating fans can accrue points for correct predictions with the ultimate prize at the end of Stanley Cup Final of two tickets to the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa on the line.

Second Round fan voting opens today at http://www.facebook.com/EASPORTSNHL. Start dates for the Stanley Cup Final voting will be announced at the end of the Conference Finals.

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Quote of the Day

Obviously a lot happened in a short period of time. At the end of the day, considering everything I went through, I really felt close to my teammates and I really feel like what we accomplished, I know we didn't win it all. ... I'm really proud of how we got there and what we did once we got there.

— Rangers forward Martin St. Louis to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com