By Derek Jory
The Vancouver Canucks never trailed in a series during their run to the Stanley Cup Final last season.
They also didn’t win the Stanley Cup.
As the saying goes, “If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten,” and being down 1-0 in the best-of-seven Western Conference Quarter-Final has the Canucks are in unfamiliar territory.
They look to get on even terms Friday night against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2.
Vancouver has never started a playoff series 0-2 in franchise history when playing the first two games at home and the Canucks have no intentions on this being the first time.
“It’s very important,” said Henrik Sedin, matter-of-factly. “We can’t afford to lose tonight, if we do that, we’ve dug ourselves a big hole and we all know how tough playoffs are and it’s tough to come back from being down 2-0, so it’s a big game for us.
“It’s rare that we lose the first game in a series,” continued Henrik, “but that’s where we are after the first game. We’ve faced a lot of adversity throughout the years and last year in the playoffs, and we feel confident in here, had a good practice this morning and we’re going to come out better tonight.”
Coach Alain Vigneault would not confirm any line-up changes, but it looks as though Andrew Ebbett will slot in for Byron Bitz, who was suspended for two games, and Keith Ballard could draw in for Aaron Rome.
Both Ebbett and Ballard are ready to play, if needed.
For Ebbett, who overcame a broken collarbone this season to rejoin the Canucks late in the year, the road to his first playoff appearance since playing three games with the Phoenix Coyotes last season has been a long one.
He’ll be looking to draw on his 16 career playoff games going into Game 2.
“I know how it is once you get into a playoff game, it’s 110 per cent every shift and you’re battling like it’s overtime every time you’re on the ice. I’ve had a couple of years experience there, so I know what it’s like.”
Ballard’s return to the line-up, whether it’s tonight or later in the series, will mark the end of a concussion recovery he struggled through.
As late as last week Ballard was having trouble making plays under pressure during practice, but he stuck with it and continued to rest to where he felt ready to play. He was cleared and taken off the injured reserve earlier this week.
When asked about any discomfort he may have been feeling in the last few days, Ballard responded with the wit reporters have missed.
“I haven’t had any issues with headaches, neck pain, nothing like that, I might have been dizzy from guys skating by me, I don’t know,” he laughed.
The Canucks forward skated with a handful of players pre-practice, yet did not participate in Vancouver’s morning skate.
Coach Vigneault said there is no update available.
Quote of the day
”I think most teams look to go into the other team’s building hoping for a split and they got the first win, now it’s our turn to take care of business and make sure it’s a split going back to LA. I don’t think we need to approach it any differently tonight, it’s still early in the series, it’s not 3-2, it’s 1-0, so there’s a lot of hockey left to be played” – Kevin Bieksa, analyzing the situation the Canucks are in down 1-0 to the Kings.