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Wellwood sizes up his ex-teammates

by Dhiren Mahiban /
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The last time Kyle Wellwood had an opportunity to size up his former team, the Vancouver Canucks, he put his foot in his mouth saying the Presidents' Trophy winners were afraid to lose.

On Sunday morning the Windsor, ON., native was much more careful with his choice of words.

"They have a little more experience, they're kind of ready for this round to try and move forward, but looking at their team this year they have a different identity," he said. "They found a way to be the best team in the regular season, they've shown they're very difficult to beat."

The 27-year-old spent two seasons with the Canucks collecting 52 points in 149 games. His weight issues relegated him to the press box at times, and at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season he decided to sign in the KHL.

Wellwood had five goals and eight points in 25 games overseas before signing with the St. Louis Blues as a free agent in January. San Jose claimed the center off waivers on January 18, and he added five goals and 13 points in 35 regular season games with the Sharks.

"I don't know if it's an advantage, but San Jose was here in the conference finals last year so I think the guys on the team are anxious to move on and get over this hump," Wellwood said. "I think both teams have played so well in the regular season and haven't gotten through to the finals.

"Both teams want to prove they've figured out the formula that makes them the best."

Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa responded to Wellwood's March comments after Saturday's practice saying the former Maple Leaf's size was an issue.

"When we had him on our squad we were afraid to lose," Bieksa said while laughing. "(Wellwood) was the smallest third-line center in the League at that point."

Wellwood chose not to get into a war of words this morning.

"I guess it's starting," he said with a smile. "You certainly expect it coming from those guys and you hear a lot worse on the ice. That's going to happen, there's going to be a lot of talking throughout the series I'm sure."

Wellwood has had his share of playoff success over the years contributing 13 points in 22 games over the two seasons in Vancouver. He has seven points through the first 13 games of these playoffs.

"I think doing the little things kind of pays off in the playoffs and if you're consistent with your game, don't make a lot of mistakes, you end up doing better I guess."

Wellwood is hoping to help his teammates get over the Western Conference Finals hump while sticking it to his former team.

"I'm just happy to be in the conference finals," he said. "I think both teams will be excited and ready to play."
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