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Canucks vs Kings - 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinals

Five reasons for the Canucks' early exit

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

This wasn't how things were supposed to end for the Vancouver Canucks, not after spending an entire season waiting for another shot at the playoffs.

They spent 10 months trying to get over the sting of coming so agonizingly close to the Stanley Cup, rejigging their team to prepare for another long playoff run in the hopes of coming up with the one extra win they couldn't secure last summer.

Instead their playoff ended with just one win, and a season of promise is over in the first round, leaving the Canucks to console themselves with a second straight Presidents' Trophy that will feel even more hollow this year.

"To be honest, it doesn't matter if you lose the seventh game of the Finals or you lose in five in the first round, it's devastating," Daniel Sedin said. "We have the mindset to win every year. When you end up on the losing side, it's tough."

In a city and organization expecting more -- a lot more -- the fallout could be even tougher this summer. The armchair quarterback analysis started as soon as the season ended, and will continue until the puck drops on the next one, but here are the five biggest reasons Vancouver's playoffs are over after just five games:

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Schneider ready for his big moment

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- "Don't fear failure. Compete 100%. Enjoy the process. Play for others."

Cory Schneider
Goalie - VAN
RECORD: 1-1-0
GAA: 1.02 | SVP: 0.969
Cory Schneider has been writing that message inside the top of his blocker, just above his right wrist, since his days at Boston College. For the second-year Canucks' goaltender, it's a reminder of what's important, an easy-to-access mental tip that has come in handy before – and sometimes even during – big games.

The mantra has served Schneider well through consecutive trips to the NCAA championship game, a couple of World Junior Championship tournaments with Team USA and a run to the Calder Cup Final in the American Hockey League in 2009. It was still there, written on masking tape, when Schneider arrived as the Canucks' rookie backup last season, though the frequency with which he referred to it has decreased over the last two seasons as he established himself as a rising star in the NHL.

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Is Schneider the new No. 1 goalie in Vancouver?

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Cory Schneider
Goalie - VAN
RECORD: 1-1-0
GAA: 1.02 | SVP: 0.969
Cory Schneider extended the Canucks' season with a stellar 43-save performance Wednesday.

The question is whether he also ended Roberto Luongo's time in Vancouver with that clutch performance against Los Angeles in Game 4 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

It's a question that probably won't be answered for months -- one with even more moving parts than Schneider showed in Game 4 in making a series of game- and season-saving stops in a 3-1 victory that prevented the top-seeded Canucks from being swept.

The complexity of the question won't keep it from being asked, though. Not with Luongo, a goaltender whose pride runs as deep as his resume and contract, reduced potentially to the role of postseason spectator.

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Daniel Sedin makes instant impact

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks didn't get one Art Ross Trophy winner back when Daniel Sedin returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing almost a month with a concussion.

They actually got the NHL's last two regular-season scoring leaders back.

Daniel Sedin
Left Wing - VAN
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 3 | +/-: 1
Daniel's return in Game 4 also provided a noticeable lift to identical twin Henrik, who won the Art Ross in 2009-10, a year ahead of his younger (by minutes) brother. Daniel's spinning, blind backhand pass to the point led to Henrik's power-play goal early in the third period of a 3-1 win that kept the Canucks' season alive, prevented a Los Angeles Kings' sweep and forced a Game 5 in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series back in Vancouver on Sunday.

It was one of many inspired plays in the Sedins' reunion.

"It was spectacular again to watch those two get going," associate coach Rick Bowness said after a sparsely attended skate Thursday. "You get Hank back 100 percent with Danny. They are world-class elite players and they'll find a way to get it done."

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Schneider starts for Canucks; Sedin likely to play

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- Cory Schneider will be back in goal and Daniel Sedin will likely return to the lineup for the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.

The Canucks trail the Los Angeles Kings, 3-0, in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault didn't give much explanation at the morning skate Wednesday as to why he picked Schneider over Roberto Luongo.

"Goaltending has not been the issue for us this year, not necessarily," Vigneault said. "We've had great goaltending. Whatever decision I've made would have been the right one. But I'm not getting into the specifics of why Cory is playing tonight."

Vigneault switched to Schneider for Game 3 to try and change momentum. Schneider left a big rebound that resulted in the game's only goal.

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Daniel Sedin practices, hopes to play for Canucks

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Daniel Sedin said he is feeling better, but stopped short of saying he would return to the Vancouver Canucks lineup Wednesday night for Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Los Angeles Kings.

Sedin appeared before a huge throng of reporters Tuesday and said he is doing well one month after he was concussed by an elbow from Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith.

"It's been a tough four weeks and it's good to be back and, first of all, feeling good," Sedin said. "That's my main issue."

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Richards steps up as leader for Kings

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- How good was Mike Richards in his first playoff game for the Los Angeles Kings?

Forget scoring his team's first goal on a 5-on-3 power play, pouncing on a turnover to set up the go-ahead goal with 3:14 left or adding a third point by assisting on an empty-netter in the dying seconds of L.A.'s 4-2 Game 1 victory in Vancouver on Wednesday.

The true measure of Richards' effectiveness came when Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was asked about his matchup with his own second-line center Ryan Kesler, who also happens to be the reigning Selke Trophy winner.

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Canucks' Bitz suspended for two games

NHL.com

Vancouver Canucks forward Byron Bitz has been suspended for two games for boarding Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford during Game 1 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal series in Vancouver on Wednesday, April 11, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

The incident occurred at 12:12 of the second period. Bitz was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding. Clifford suffered an injury as a result of the hit.

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Bitz faces hearing with Department of Player Safety

Vancouver Canucks right wing Byron Bitz will face a disciplinary hearing with the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety Thursday.

The hearing regards a boarding major Bitz received Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against Los Angeles when Bitz hit L.A.'s Kyle Clifford at 12:12 of the second period. Bitz was also assessed a game misconduct on the play.

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Canucks' Daniel Sedin ruled out for Game 1

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Daniel Sedin did not take part in Wednesday's morning skate at Rogers Arena and the Vancouver Canucks have ruled him out for Game 1 against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.

"There is nothing new to report. Obviously he's not going to play tonight," coach Alain Vigneault said, refusing to comment on a report out of Sweden in which Sedin's father, Tommy, said Daniel had a headache after returning to the ice on Monday.

That was the first practice for Sedin, who won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer last season, since being concussed by an elbow from Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith on March 21. He skated with regular linemates Henrik and Alexandre Burrows, and worked in his usual spot on the top power-play unit, staying out through the end of a hard skating session at the end. But on Tuesday he wasn't on the ice with the main group, skating instead with a half dozen spare part players after the regular session ended.
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Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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