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Jersey-draped Canucks fans in Vancouver making bold predictions ahead of Game 5

NHL.com @NHL

VANCOUVER - Canucks fans measure their anticipation in years.

It's been 17 since the Vancouver team last made it to the Stanley Cup final, losing the 1994 series to the New York Rangers.

And 41 since the Canucks joined the NHL, during which they have yet to actually win the Stanley Cup.

They are numbers dutifully repeated by jersey-draped fans in Vancouver as the city prepared for Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks, which could send the Canucks to the final.

"For 40 years I've been a Canucks fan, it's been ups and downs over the years, we've been close before," said Barb Timewell, who wore a Cancuks jersey to the office on Tuesday before heading to a local pub after work to watch the game.

"I think this time we're going to do it."

The Canucks had a 3-1 series lead heading into the latest home game, and the celebrations that have marked each playoff win were expected to reach new heights if the team won.

Hockey jerseys were easy to spot in the city's downtown in the hours before the puck dropped. Flags hung inside local restaurants and flapped out windows of passing cars, while the iconic lions on the city's Lions Gate Bridge were wearing jerseys of their own.

Someone plastered posters to downtown light posts with an image of the Stanley Cup along with the mantra, "Stay positive," and city buses that normally take passengers along the popular Granville Street entertainment district were re-routed in anticipation of the playoff celebrations.

Isiah Moussa, a 46-year-old who moved to Vancouver from Toronto two months ago, wasn't wearing his own Canucks garb, but strolled along Granville Street on Tuesday afternoon chatting passersby in jerseys revelling in the excitement of the night's game. Moussa said he's a Maple Leaf fan at heart, but right now he's rooting for the Canucks.

"It's absolutely crazy," said Moussa, describing the atmosphere during the past few weeks. "People are happy, the city is hungry for the Stanley Cup."

Inside Granville Sports Corner, a steady stream of customers dropped by to pick up jerseys and other team merchandise to show their support.

Manager Mike Jackson said business spikes with every win, and it was non-stop ahead of Tuesday's game.

"Very busy, we're hopping, and there's a lot of people on the way," said Jackson, himself wearing a Canucks jersey.

"The further we go, it intensifies. It (the city) is very excitable, people are on board."

James Neil expected a full house at G Sports Bar, where he's the general manager, explaining that fans have been showing up earlier and earlier to secure a seat to watch the game on the bar's big screens.

Neil said fans in the city have come together in a way reminiscent of the 2010 Winter Olympics, when thousands of people turned the city's downtown into a nightly street party.

"It's very Olympic-esque, the energy on Granville Street, they're driving up and down, they're honking, they're cheering," he said.

"Everybody's your friend because everybody's cheering for the same thing. You've got people who don't know each other high-fiving each other. It's all positive energy."

Whoever wins the Canucks-Sharks series will play either the Boston Bruins or the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Stanley Cup.

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