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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."
   
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic