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Canucks' blue line could look different in Game 2

Friday, 06.03.2011 / 4:38 PM / 2011 Stanley Cup Final - Canucks v Bruins

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Canucks' blue line could look different in Game 2
An injury that has Dan Hamhuis "day-to-day" could signal more juggling around for Canucks coach Alain Vigneault on his blue line with Game 2 set for Saturday night.
VANCOUVER -- Canucks coach Alain Vigneault predictably listed injured defenseman Dan Hamhuis as day-to-day, meaning his status for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday is, well, up in the air.
 
Hamhuis, though, did not practice with the Canucks on Friday at the University of British Columbia, which doesn't bode well for his availability for Saturday's Game 2 (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). He was injured four minutes into the second period of Game 1 after hip-checking Milan Lucic into the boards in front of the Canucks' bench and taking a subsequent cross check from David Krejci. Hamhuis did not return to the game.
 
During Friday's practice, Vancouver had a different look with its defensive pairs and while Vigneault told the media not to read anything into that, it is notable considering the pairings and how those may affect the Canucks' Game 2 lineup.
 
Kevin Bieksa, normally Hamhuis' partner, was with Aaron Rome, who was Christian Ehrhoff's partner in Game 1. Ehrhoff was with Andrew Alberts, a healthy scratch since Game 3 of the Nashville series.
 
Sami Salo and Alex Edler remained together. Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev were the fourth pair.
 
Alberts skating with Ehrhoff was the most glaring change considering when they're healthy Ehrhoff and Rome have been together since late in the first round.
 
"He said I could practice with Hoffer today and we'll see what happens tomorrow," Alberts said.
 
Alberts said he thinks he's going to play in Game 2, "but I'm not sure yet."
 
Alberts also thought he was going to play in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals with Ehrhoff and Rome both sidelined. Vigneault instead used Ballard and Tanev as his third pair to get both a left-handed and right-handed shot on the ice.

It wouldn't be totally shocking to see that happen again Saturday. Vigneault said Ballard and Tanev are best together, so he likely wouldn't put just one of them in.
 
"I think Keith has played his best hockey this year when he has played with Chris Tanev," Vigneault said. "I think they both read off one another real well. Their outlet passes and their north-south plays are consistent. Defensively, when the other team has been in our zone, we haven't spent a lot of time because they've been able to read off one another and get the puck out quickly."
 
Ballard, like Alberts, said he has no clue what to expect when he shows up at the rink Saturday. But he is preparing to play.
 
"You have to work in practice, do your stuff in the gym and mentally you have to focus as if you're playing," Ballard told NHL.com. "You have to do everything you do when you know you're playing. If you're not, you have to keep doing the same things the next day."
 
Bieksa and Hamhuis have formed the Canucks' top pair all postseason, so presumably Bieksa would be the one making the biggest adjustment of all the defensemen if his partner is unavailable. But Bieksa downplayed any changes he would have to make should he be paired with Rome, Ehrhoff or anyone else.
 
"For me it's just play the game, and take whatever it gives me," Bieksa said. "I'll make my same reads, nothing is going to change."
 
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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