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Canucks vs Sharks

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Canucks vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Quarterfinals

Less pressure, more performance for Sharks

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Sharks under coach Todd McLellan reached the Western Conference Finals in 2010 and 2011 after winning Pacific Division crowns. They won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history in 2008-09, McLellan's first season, with a team-record 117 points.

Yet, as the Sharks entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year as the No. 6 seed in the West, McLellan had a good feeling about his under-the-radar team that had to rally down the stretch just to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Coming in, it felt a little bit different this year," McLellan said Tuesday, minutes after the Sharks beat Vancouver 4-3 in overtime to sweep their quarterfinal series. "In the past, you kind of felt the pressure. This year we didn't feel that way. … We're a loose group, playing free. Not a lot of expectations that are put on us from the outside that have been there in the past. And just a different group of characters that came through."

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Sharks lose Burish for entire second round

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- San Jose Sharks fourth-line forward Adam Burish has been ruled out for the Western Conference Semifinals with an upper-body injury, the team announced Thursday.

Burish was injured in the second period of the Sharks' series-clinching 4-3 overtime victory Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks. He left at the 16:35 mark after drawing a slashing penalty on Vancouver's Alexander Edler and didn't return to the game. Afterward, Burish had a large wrap on his right hand.

"He's a big part of our team," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He has been since he arrived. He brings an element of experience, grit, some tenacity, so we're going to miss him. But we've been able to recover from other injuries so far throughout the playoffs. The players who have adjusted and adapted their game and come into the lineup did a tremendous job, and we're going to ask them to do that again."

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Five reasons Canucks were eliminated from playoffs

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

For the second straight season, the Vancouver Canucks have exited the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round, following a five-game loss last year to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings with a sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks this year.

For a team that was one win from the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 2011, it will be a hard loss to swallow, one that could lead to a shake-up of the roster, coaching staff and maybe even front office.

As Vancouver's decision-makers gather in the coming weeks to dissect what went wrong and determine how to move forward, here are the five main reasons that the Canucks are the first team out of the 2013 playoffs:

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Five reasons Sharks advanced to second round

Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 11:15 AM / Canucks vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Quarterfinals

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The recent history of the San Jose Sharks has seen them arrive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a title favorite only to disappoint.

There were few expectations this year, as they entered with most of the same players that had come up short in years past. However, the team played perhaps the most complete series in team history, capped by a 4-3 overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 4 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

So how were the Sharks able to sweep a team out of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history? Here are five reasons they're the first team to advance to the conference semifinals:

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Sharks shrug off Canucks' embellishment claims

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- If Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa hoped to get the San Jose Sharks' attention with his accusations Monday of embellishment, he apparently succeeded.

Bieksa pointed the finger at two of the Sharks' top players, centers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. They largely sidestepped the issue Tuesday, ahead of Game 4 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal series (10 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS), but coach Todd McLellan and forward Adam Burish responded.

"If we go back now to look at the series, we've been called cheaters in Game 1, we've been called embellishing Canadians after Game 3," McLellan said. "If the series goes any deeper, we may be accused of biting, eventually.

"In all seriousness, I don't take any offense to it, but if I was an official I probably would. I think they've questioned the integrity of the linesmen after Game 1, and now the integrity of the referees after Game 3. But no offense taken by us."

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Canucks' Bieksa accuses Sharks of embellishment

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The Vancouver Canucks have often been accused of embellishing calls in an effort to draw penalties.

On Monday, Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa pointed the finger at Sharks forwards Logan Couture and Joe Thornton, accusing them of having Oscar-worthy performances during this Western Conference Quarterfinals series.

The Sharks scored three power-play goals on eight attempts Sunday night in a 5-2 victory that gave them a 3-0 lead in the series. Game 4 is set for Tuesday at HP Pavilion.

"Five-on-five, we're the better team," Bieksa said. "Their power play's been hot. We've been giving them too many chances. There's guys on their team, two guys in particular, that are embellishing a lot of calls, making it tough on the officials. Couture, you can't go near the guy. He snaps his head back. He flails. You touch him after the whistle, and he's going to jump off the ice and throw himself into the glass. And those are hard calls for the officials to make, and now they're going against us.

"Thornton, another so-called Canadian, supposed to play the game with integrity, gets slashed and takes his glove off and shakes his hand. Referee takes a couple seconds to look at that and make a call, and that's an important part of the game. That's a critical time of the game where we go down two men, and these are two guys that are supposed to be playing the game with integrity."

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Robinson, Johnson strengthen Sharks' defense

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks have long been known for having big, skilled players who can score. But if there was ever any doubt about how much the Sharks value defense, it ended during the offseason when they shuffled their coaching staff and made two big hires.

First, the Sharks added Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson to coach Todd McLellan's staff as an associated coach on July 9. He played 20 seasons in the NHL and has won the Stanley Cup nine times -- six times as a player, once as a head coach and twice as an assistant.

One day later, the Sharks added former Washington Capitals assistant coach Jim Johnson, a 14-year NHL defenseman, to McLellan's staff.

The Sharks allowed just 2.33 goals per game during the regular-season, sixth best in the NHL. They've been even better in the playoffs, giving up just 1.50 per game as they've raced out to a 2-0 lead in their first-round series with the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs entering Game 3 Sunday night at HP Pavilion.

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Logan Couture emerging as face of Sharks

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Logan Couture
Center - SJS
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 2
SOG: 2 | +/-: 0

VANCOUVER -- Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have been the faces of the San Jose Sharks for the better part of the past decade.

They're not alone on the marquee anymore. Logan Couture has joined them -- and maybe even surpassed them.

"Patty and Joe have been the face of the franchise for many years now, but since Logan got here I have been his biggest fan," said veteran defenseman Dan Boyle, pausing as he carefully chose his words. "He's a tremendous player. He plays in all three zones. You want him on the last minute of the game, whether you are up or down a goal, he's going to block a shot or score.

"Whether it's his team or not, he's just an amazing player, I'll just put it that way."

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Sharks' Havlat injured, does not return

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER – San Jose Sharks forward Martin Havlat left midway through the first period of their opening game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks and did not return.

Havlat, who has been playing on a second line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau, left with nine minutes remaining and was evaluated at intermission.

Havlat had eight goals and 18 points in 40 games this season for the Sharks. He also had the best chance of the first period on an early power play, but Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo stretched across with the right pad to take away a mostly empty net.

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Canucks, Sharks more balanced since trade deadline

Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 11:58 AM / Canucks vs Sharks - 2013 SCP Conference Quarterfinals

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- To get an idea how much the San Jose Sharks changed after the NHL Trade Deadline, just look at how different the Vancouver Canucks will be when the teams meet in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series Wednesday.

After years of being by front-line veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, the top-heavy Sharks have become faster, deeper -- and arguably better -- since trading veterans Douglas Murray and Ryane Clowe. They replaced Clowe with Raffi Torres in a trade with the Phoenix Coyotes, converted defenseman Brent Burns into a top-line power forward, dropped Joe Pavelski back to center a third line, and transformed into a better balanced team.

"I'm not sure if we rebranded," coach Todd McLellan said. "We looked at the ingredients we had -- what we lost and what we brought in -- and we decided that we had to play a certain way to be successful. The group agreed on it, and the last month of the season we played to that and had a chance to be successful each night. … That's the recipe we think gives us the best chance."

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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season