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Canucks v Blackhawks - 2011 Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinals

Justin Williams set to return for Kings

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Los Angeles Kings expect to get a boost Thursday night with the return of forward Justin Williams for Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series opener against the San Jose Sharks.

The 29-year-old forward finished tied with Dustin Brown as the Kings' second-leading scorer with 57 points despite missing the final nine games with a dislocated right shoulder.

"I wouldn't be here if I wasn't able to go out and do my best," Williams said Thursday morning. "I'm only at my best when I'm making stuff happen down low. You're going to get hit and you're going to get bounced. It's playoff time and everything is amped up."

Edler has returned in fine form for Canucks

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Anyone who watched Alexander Edler on the Canucks blue line for the first time Wednesday night would've thought the Swedish defenseman is in the middle of a Norris-worthy season -- not playing just his third game back from serious back surgery.

Edler played 21:32, second only to Dan Hamhuis, delivered seven hits, second only to Maxim Lapierre, and had two blocked shots.

He helped lead the physical charge, which saw the Canucks out-hit the Blackhawks 47-21 in a 2-0 Game 1 win over Chicago. The 24-year-old delivered big blows to the likes of Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg.

"I think he was the best player on the ice last night: physically, defensively and moving the puck," said Keith Ballard. "He's such a good player. He was out for so long that people don't realize -- we kept winning and kept moving along.

Luongo gives Hawks something to think about

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER, B.C. – It was suggested before the start of the Chicago-Vancouver series that the Blackhawks were inside the head of Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo.

After Luongo's 32-save performance in Vancouver's 2-0 series-opening victory Wednesday night, it looked more like Luongo might be in the Blackhawks' heads.

"He made some big stops, there's no doubt about it," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said after Luongo's second career playoff shutout. "He's going to do that every single game, but we weren't good enough in front of him.

"Maybe we passed up a couple of shots, too, when we had a 2-on-1 or several opportunities like that. We got to be better in those situations and on the power play, too. It all comes from work ethic."

Brouwer in for Hawks; Pisani sits

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Troy Brouwer had to replace someone in the Chicago Blackhawks' lineup for Game 1 Wednesday night at Rogers Arena. Fernando Pisani drew the short straw and will be a healthy scratch for the first time since March 8.

Brouwer, who missed the final three games of the regular season with a shoulder injury, will start the game skating on a line with Jake Dowell and Bryan Bickell. Pisani was playing on that line while Brouwer was out of the lineup.

Pisani hasn't recorded a point since he had an assist here in Vancouver in a 4-3 loss on Feb. 4. He had 7 goals and 9 assists for 16 points in 60 games. Brouwer finished the regular season with 17 goals and 19 assists for 36 points in 79 games

Hawks to have Brouwer, not Bolland, for Game 1

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

VANCOUVER -- The Blackhawks got some good news in the hours prior to their playoff opener against the Canucks, as Troy Brouwer said his shoulder feels good enough to play and coach Joel Quenneville confirmed that the rugged forward will be in the lineup Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

Quenneville wouldn't confirm who will be coming out of the Blackhawks' lineup when they face off against the Canucks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals (10 p.m. ET, CBC, VERSUS, RDS).

"It's something you just have to deal through the pain a little bit and go from there," said Brouwer, who missed the final three games of the regular season after injuring his shoulder at Montreal on April 5. "If you can handle it then you can go. I've been able to have a pretty quick recovery and I feel good. I wouldn't put myself in a situation where I could get hurt."

The news wasn't as good on Dave Bolland, who remains out with a concussion.

At long last, Canucks have top six intact

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Last summer one of the points of emphasis for Canucks general manager Mike Gillis was to improve his defensive depth.

Gillis made a four-player trade to acquire Keith Ballard from the Florida Panthers, and then signed free-agent Dan Hamhuis to bolster his blue-line.

In July, on paper, it looked like a significant upgrade to the team, which was bounced for the second straight year, in the second round, by the Chicago Blackhawks. However, then came the injuries -- Sami Salo ruptured his Achilles tendon playing floorball in his native Finland, and the bad news mounted throughout the season.

In all the Canucks used 13 different defensemen on the blue-line including the likes of Evan Oberg, Ryan Parent and Lee Sweatt. It wasn't until game 82 of the regular season, in Calgary, that Vancouver had the six defensemen they hoped to start the season with all in the line-up.

Canucks excited for challenge of facing Hawks again

Dhiren Mahiban - Correspondent

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Anyone expecting the Vancouver Canucks to spend their Sunday in front of the TV anxiously waiting to see if their first-round opponent in the Stanley Cup Playoffs would be the Chicago Blackhawks or Dallas Stars should know the Presidents' Trophy winners didn't give the matter all that much concern.

"I found out this morning," said Alexandre Burrows, who celebrated his 30th birthday Monday. "When I got to the rink guys told me we were going to play (Chicago). They're a great team, Stanley Cup champs."

It's the third consecutive season the Canucks and Blackhawks will meet in the playoffs. Chicago has knocked Vancouver out of the postseason two consecutive years in Game Six of the second round. This time, the Blackhawks backed into the second season thanks to the Stars' loss in Minnesota on Sunday evening. Game 1 is set for Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.

Hawks relishing new underdog role

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- After needing help from the Minnesota Wild just to qualify for the playoffs this season, there are plenty of people using the term "backed in" to describe the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks' bid to repeat.

Yet, the Hawks didn't seem to care too much on Monday at O'Hare International Airport before heading northwest to start a Stanley Cup Playoff quarterfinal series on Wednesday against the Western Conference's top team, the Vancouver Canucks.

When asked if the term "backed into the playoffs" bothers him, Hawks captain Jonathan Toews sort of hunched his shoulders and said: "I haven't heard that term yet."

Blackhawks out to extend dominance of Canucks

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

All you need to know about the Chicago Blackhawks' dominance over the Vancouver Canucks in the past two postseasons are three straight, hard, true and undeniable facts:

1. Kevin Bieksa had the same amount of points (9) as Daniel Sedin.

2. Roberto Luongo had an .888 save percentage, including an .816 save percentage in the two clinching games.

3. The Blackhawks outscored the Canucks 24-8 in third periods.

Each series went six games, but in the end they were considered routs, with Chicago winning four of the last five games both years.

This year's opening-round series, which begins Wednesday at Rogers Centre (10 p.m. ET, CBC, VERSUS) figures to be different, what with the Canucks getting in as the Presidents' Trophy winners with 117 points and the Hawks backing in thanks to a favorable result in Game No. 1,230 of the regular season.

Sedin twins dish the dirt on playoffs' top seed

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

If you want to find out the answers, you've got to go right to the source. Or, in the case of figuring out what is going on with the team that finished the regular season with top-billing in the National Hockey League standings, you go directly to two sources.

Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin.

The identical twins had identically stellar seasons, but they were just two of several key cogs that turned the Vancouver Canucks into Presidents' Trophy winners.

Vancouver enters its first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks fresh off a franchise-best 117-point regular season. Daniel finished first in the League with 104 points and Henrik was fourth with 94. Ryan Kesler had a breakout offensive season with 41 goals, which tied him with Daniel for first on the Canucks and fourth in the NHL.

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