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Middle of the ice sure to be a factor

Saturday, 04.23.2011 / 6:47 PM

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

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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."
Quote of the Day

I don't think it's really truly going to sink in until we drop the puck, to be honest. I know there's going to be a lot of smoke and mirrors with the media attention and all that. We came [Monday] and it was sort of a light day to get things organized. We just want to focus in on the business aspect, the game itself. That's what we're preparing to do. Get these next couple of days out of the way and it's game on.

— Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on playing in his first Stanley Cup Final