SIGHTS SET ON SHARKS
By Laura Chambers
After days of speculation, the Canucks know who they will be lining up against in the Western Conference Final.
The San Jose Sharks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in Game 7 on Thursday, advancing into the third round and Vancouver’s crosshairs.
As was the case against Nashville, Vancouver has never encountered San Jose in the post-season. That, however, is as far as comparisons go. Facing more size and scoring ability, the Canucks are expecting a distinct third round series.
“It’s going to be different that’s for sure,” said Canucks forward Alex Burrows. “They play a pretty solid defensive game, but they’ve got a little more power offensively than Nashville did.”
The Canucks faced the Sharks on four occasions during the regular season, claiming victory three times, with two of those wins coming in San Jose. Both teams play a puck-possession style, which promises for an exciting match-up.
“It’s been pretty close all year,” Burrows continued. “It’s going to come down to a big save or a big shot, a big kill, a big power play goal.”
San Jose’s second round series was almost identical to Vancouver’s first round against Chicago. Up 3-0 in games, the Sharks lost the next three, before winning in Game 7.
“San Jose went through the same thing so I’m sure they’re going to be ready,” said Daniel Sedin. “It’s going to be a tough match-up, but it’s about how we play and we’ll be ready come Sunday.”
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
The team took to the ice Friday morning short three players.
Mikael Samuelsson, Chris Higgins and Henrik Sedin were absent from practice at UBC Thunderbird Arena. Head coach Alain Vigneault said it is unlikely that Samuelsson will start the series on Sunday. Samuelsson was helped off the ice during the first period of Game 5 versus Nashville after suffering an undisclosed injury.
The absences of Henrik Sedin and Higgins are less telling.
“Coach likes me,” Henrik joked about his multiple days off. “I’m feeling fresh…I’m going to practice tomorrow, that’s the plan.”
Higgins experienced a sore foot after blocking a shot, but also expects to get back on the ice on Saturday.
EHRHOFF VS. SHARKS
“It’s a very good line-up and a tough challenge for us,” said Christian Ehrhoff, of the San Jose Sharks.
He should know.
Ehrhoff suited up with the Sharks for five season before donning green and blue in 2009. His friendships with former teammates will take a backseat, however, as the defenseman helps the Canucks prepare for the third round.
“That’s not my concern, I’m now with the Canucks and I’m worried about this team,” explained Ehrhoff.
He’s not alone.
Manny Malhotra is also a former Shark and the pair are sharing their inside information with Canucks coaching staff and players.
“Obviously they have Kyle [Wellwood] who’s was with us for two years, but we’ve got Manny and Christian,” said coach Vigneault.
Ehrhoff played for San Jose when it made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2004. After losing that series to Calgary 4-2, Ehrhoff is looking forward to another chance with Vancouver.
“Every time you get knocked out it’s always fresh in your mind, but we’re here this year and I’m focused on what’s happening now and winning this series.”