VANCOUVER, BC -- After losing Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena on Wednesday, the Vancouver Canucks feel they’re approaching must-win territory.
It makes Game 2, set for Friday (8 p.m. MT, CBC, SN960), a pivotal matchup in the best-of-7 series.
It’s must-win for Willie Desjardins’ Canucks.
“I think the way you approach every game in the playoffs is a must-win,” the Vancouver coach said. “You have to win that game. If something goes wrong, your margin of error goes down so much. This is a big game for us and we need to find a way to win it. We don’t want to go into Calgary down two.”
Though he’s got just 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games to his credit, Vancouver defenceman Luca Sbisa knows the importance of rebounding to earn the split before heading to Calgary.
“I think it just shows the character that we have in this locker room,” Sbisa said. “We’re not happy with losses. In the playoffs it’s even more important, you can’t lose two in a row, it’s huge. Just go out there, play good, play solid. Try to forget what happened last time. Just know you’ve got to be better today and got out there with that mentality and you’ll be successful.”
The Canucks have shown the ability to bounce back following a loss in the regular season.
From Christmas onward, the Canucks lost back-to-back games just five times.
“We’ve been really good at that,” said Daniel Sedin, who was held pointless in 16:14 of action in Game 1, a 2-1 loss. “That’s the sign of a good team. It seems like when we lose a game we get right back at it next game and play real well. We’re hoping for the same tonight.”
The second-half strength, Desjardins credited, comes down to one aspect.
“I think that’s your leadership,” said Desjardins, who has coached current Flames defencemen Kris Russell and David Schlemko in junior with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League.
“If you have real good leaders that makes a difference and we have real good character in the room. I think they realize how important every game is. We knew down the stretch it was a must-win game and we’d have to come back and we found a way. We’re in a similar situation today and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready tonight.”
“We studied the way they play, we know the way they play. We were pretty well prepared. We lost because of our own mistakes. If we can minimize our own mistakes, I think we are going to be successful. In the last period we were playing a little too aggressive, a little too open and we gave them too many odd man rushes. If we can stay patient and stay focused for as long as it’s going to take, I think we’re going to be good.”
CANUCKS PROJECTED LINEUP
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Nick Bonino - Radim Vrbata
Brad Richardson - Shawn Matthias - Derek Dorsett
Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen
Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev
Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber
Kevin Bieksa - Luca Sbisa
Defenceman Kevin Bieksa is expected to be a game-time decision. Forward Zack Kassian (back) is day-to-day.
Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the Canucks will be broadcast on CBC (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The FAN (radio). Game time is 8:00 PM MT. Channel numbers for Telus, Shaw, and Bell users can be found on the Broadcast Schedule page.
The Calgary Flames official Twitter account (@NHLFlames) will be live-tweeting the game and providing pre and post-game content. Fans can also follow along on the Flames official Instagram account (@NHLFlames) for exclusive, behind-the-scenes content. Use the hashtags #NeverQuit and #VANvsCGY.
The Calgary Flames official app is another way to follow along with the action, with goal and period summary notifications. The app is free and available to download on iTunes and Google Play.