May 15, 2011
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Kyle Wellwood is all of 5-foot-10 in soaking wet feet and he probably needs to have his skates on just to hit that mark.
Just ask his former Canuck teammate Kevin Bieksa, who made the sound bite highlights this week talking about the Sharks centerman.
The reason were afraid to lose is because Wellwood was our third line center in Vancouver and hes the smallest center in the league, Bieksa kidded before the cameras.
Wellwood smiled at the remark after Sunday's morning skate as both teams prepped for tonights Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at Rogers Arena.
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Its finally starting, said Wellwood, who had a brief stint in Russia before being claimed off waivers by the Sharks this season.
And you certainly expect it for those games and we will hear a lot worse on the ice. Its gonna happen. Theres going to be a lot of talk throughout the series.
Wellwood figures to be on right wing tonight on Joe Pavelskis line with Torrey Mitchell.
There have been some wild, free skating games between these clubs this season, including two shootouts (they split) as the Canucks use every inch of ice to generate speed.
Theyre the fastest team in the league, Wellwood said. They play the game fast. They do long jumps. They make plays from one end of the ice to the other.
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Its something that nobody has been able to figure out during the regular season or playoffs. It will be a challenge for us to neutralize their assets.
Theyre a very dangerous team. And yet, if we get behind in games we seem to play better when were down a goal. It should be an interesting match-up.
Kyles younger brother, Eric, who is in the Flyers' organization will be watching.
He wants to come out here eventually, Wellwood said. See a game. He said just good luck.
Not to harp on it, but both these clubs carry franchise baggage into Game 1 as teams that traditionally pile up points during the regular season, then fail miserably when the pressure is on to get to the Cup Final.
I think both want to prove to people that they have figured out the formula that makes you the best, Wellwood said. They want to show people that. All the regular season means is that you got a lot of good players.
The playoffs, you need to round your team out and play all different styles to beat teams. San Jose was here last year and think guys are anxious to get over that hump.
Tim Panaccio is the Flyers Insider for Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.