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2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Finals

Canucks' Malhotra cleared for light contact

Friday, 05.27.2011 / 3:10 PM / 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Finals

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- When Manny Malhotra joined his teammates in practice for the first time on May 12, Canucks associate coach Rick Bowness said it would take a "complete miracle" for the center to return to game action.
On Friday morning GM Mike Gillis confirmed the 30-year-old has been cleared for light contact.
"This is the natural progression without any sideways or backwards movement," Gillis said. "He's progressed really well, but there's a time frame in all of this where it isn't about progressing, it's just stability over time, and he's gone through that now and everything looks really good."

Reading List: Bolts, Bruins battle for berth

Friday, 05.27.2011 / 9:23 AM / 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Finals

We now know when the Stanley Cup Final will be played (link to sked). What we still don't know is who we'll be watching.

The Vancouver Canucks know they'll be hosting Game 1 Wednesday. Like the rest of us, they'll be watching Friday to see whether their opponent will be the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Boston Bruins. The teams get together at TD Garden (link to preview) (8 p.m. ET; Versus, CBC, RDS) for the first Game 7 in the conference finals in five years. The prize: a chance to play the Canucks for the biggest prize in hockey.

Reading List: Bruins, Bolts heading back to Boston

Thursday, 05.26.2011 / 9:06 AM / 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Finals

It's been five years since a conference final series has gone to a seventh, but that’s where the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins are headed after the Bolts made it 4-for-4 in elimination games this spring by beating the Bruins 5-4 at the St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday to push the Eastern Conference Finals to the limit.

Not even a hat trick by Boston's David Krejci was enough to give the Bruins the win they needed to earn their first trip to the Final since 1991. Instead, the teams made one last flight to Boston for Game 7 on Friday (8 p.m. ET; Versus, CBC, RDS) -- with the winner earning a transcontinental trip to Vancouver for Game 1 of the Final next week.

Who's No. 1? Not the Cup-winning goalie

Wednesday, 05.25.2011 / 5:00 PM / 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Finals

David Kalan - Staff Writer

In a career that has spanned 11 seasons, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has done just about everything. He's accrued accolades both of the individual and team variety with multiple All-Star appearances, a 2004 World Cup of Hockey title, two IIHF World Championships and of course a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

But despite his myriad of accomplishments, Luongo has always carried a reputation as a goalie who, despite obvious talents, might never win the ultimate prize due to a tendency to surrender the occasional soft goal or make a dramatic mental error such as his misguided clearing pass in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals this year, which Joe Thornton intercepted and tossed into a wide open net. Luongo has yet to touch the Stanley Cup in what might be an otherwise Hall of Fame career, but a glance at recent history suggests it may not be Luongo's skill set or how he reacts to high-pressure situations.

It might just be the number on his back.

While most netminders prefer a number in the 20s, 30s or 40s, a goaltender wearing No. 1 is not unusual, as the digit has been worn by legends like Terry Sawchuk, Glenn Hall and Johnny Bower. In fact, of the 87 goalies who played at least 1 minute in the NHL this season, nine of them wore No. 1, a group that includes a Vezina nominee (Luongo), a former Calder Trophy winner (Steve Mason), two of the League's top backups (Brent Johnson and Johan Hedberg) and not one but two players who have probably been forced to sing Weezer way too many times at karaoke (Jonas Hiller and Jhonas Enroth).

Consistent success marks Canucks' march to Final

Wednesday, 05.25.2011 / 3:20 PM / 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Finals

Emily Kaplan - Staff Writer

It was perhaps the biggest goal any Canuck had scored in 17 years.

When Kevin Bieksa slapped a bouncing puck to the right corner of the net on Tuesday night, 10:18 into double overtime of Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, he sent Vancouver fans into a frenzy. The Canucks clinched their first berth Stanley Cup Final since 1994, and third overall in the franchise's 40-year history.

The goal extended the Canucks season -- a season filled with anticipation, pressure and excitement. It seemed like a season where the ultimate goal -- to win the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup -- was the only option, and anything short of that would be considered failure.

Conference trophies: to touch, or not to touch?

Wednesday, 05.25.2011 / 11:19 AM / 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Finals

Emily Kaplan - Staff Writer

Clarence Campbell Trophy

Clarence Campbell Trophy (Click image to enlarge)

Henrik Sedin smiled, clinched his fists in celebration, but refused to do one thing -- touch the trophy.

When the Vancouver Canucks won the Western Conference Championship on Tuesday night, with a double overtime victory against the San Jose Sharks in Game 5, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly presented the team with the Clarence Campbell Trophy in a postgame ceremony.

Sedin, Vancouver's captain, skated over to center ice. However he opted to stand next to the trophy, rather than hoisting it into the air in front of nearly 19,000 screaming fans at Rogers Arena.

Does that mean the Canucks are poised to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history?

Some superstitious players feel it is unlucky or a bad omen to hoist -- or even touch -- their conference trophies when the series have been won.

Reading List: Canucks are in Final; Bruins to join?

Wednesday, 05.25.2011 / 9:08 AM / 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Finals

We have one-half of this year's pairing for the Stanley Cup Final.

Seventeen years to the day that Greg Adams scored in double overtime to send the Canucks to the 1994 Final, Kevin Bieksa bounced home a fluke goal midway through the second extra period to give the Canucks a 3-2 win against San Jose and their first trip to the Final since 1994.

The Sharks were less than 14 seconds from sending the series back to San Jose for Game 6 before Ryan Kesler tied it by deflecting Henrik Sedin's shot into the net with 13.2 seconds left. Bieksa won it when he picked up a strange carom off the glass and bounced a shot into the net.

Skinner learning from fellow young guns

Tuesday, 05.24.2011 / 4:59 PM / 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Finals

Greg Picker - Staff Writer

Although the Stanley Cup Playoffs did not feature the Carolina Hurricanes and rookie forward Jeff Skinner, the seventh pick of the 2010 Entry Draft still can appreciate the impact other young players like him have had during this year's postseason.

"I think it's great, obviously, for young guys like that to go in,” Skinner said. "I think just the situations they're in and how they handle the pressure, big game after big game -- it's impressive the way they handle themselves."

Although missing the playoffs was not what Skinner had hoped for, it has allowed him to watch and learn from some fellow NHL youngsters.

"To watch them is fun, and I think you just sort of try and pick up on little things that they do," Skinner said.

Reading List: Thomas' great save one reason Lightning are in familiar place

Tuesday, 05.24.2011 / 9:09 AM / 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Finals

A heroic effort from Tim Thomas has the Boston Bruins just one win away from their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 21 years.

Despite being outplayed in the first and third periods, the Bruins escaped TD Garden Monday with a 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston can close the series with a victory in Game 6 Wednesday at the St. Pete Times Forum (8 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS).
Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks return home to Rogers Arena for Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday (9 p.m., Versus, CBC, RDS). The Canucks can head to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1994 with a victory.

Reading list: Canucks a win away from Final

Monday, 05.23.2011 / 10:14 AM / 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conference Finals

One win is all that separates the Vancouver Canucks from their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 17 years.

After the Canucks got three 5-on-3 goals in short order and four assists from Henrik Sedin in Sunday's 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, they took a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals heading back to British Columbia.

The Canucks have struggled to close out series, going 2-4 in the first two rounds against the Blackhawks and Predators, but they'll get their first chance to dispose of the Sharks when Game 5 takes place Tuesday at Rogers Arena (9 p.m., Versus, CBC, RDS).
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