May 24, 2011
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It was May 24, 1994.
Seventeen years ago today marked the last time the Canucks qualified for the Stanley Cup Final.
How terribly ironic to realize that it could happen again today if the Canucks eliminate the Sharks in the Western Conference finals.
Vancouver is up 3-1, and the Sharks self-destructed on special teams over the weekend.
In the playoffs, you have to have short memories, coach Todd McLellan said. You know, it's about getting through Game 5. That's all there is. Doesn't matter what happened through Games 1 and 4. It's about getting through Game 5 and finding a way to win.
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Rogers Arena figures to be jacked up for this game, given the historical significance.
It might be a little more exciting tonight, offered Canucks captain Henik Sedin. This city hasnt been part of a Final many times and theyve been waiting a long time, and we have, too.
Sedin said he didnt lose any sleep on Monday thinking about the Canucks' 3-1 series lead.
None at all, he said. Its fun, its exciting, but Id rather be here than before that Game 7 against Chicago, thats for sure.
Sedin admitted hes had a few conversations with people in British Columbia to get a sense of the frustration among the fan base.
You talk to people outside hockey and fans and theyve been through it all and theyve been waiting, he said.
Sedin didnt follow the Canucks in 1994 when 24-year-old captain named Trevor Linden took Vancouver there to face Mark Messiers New York Rangers.
I was 14 then and they didnt show a lot of NHL hockey back in Sweden, Sedin said. Its more my talking with Trevor when he was here. Ive seen pictures from after Game 7 against the Rangers.
His first, real memories of a Stanley Cup, he said, came from the 1999 series between Buffalo and Dallas.
We were over there watching Game 6 before the draft which is what I remember most, he said.
He said it took him a while to comprehend just how difficult it is to get into the Final.
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You have to win three rounds its extremely tough, he said. Weve had good teams before and were never really close. That shows how tough it really is. Thats why you cant look past being up 3-1. You have to treat it as a Game 7. You never really know what is going to happen.
But its easier said than done to avoid thinking about being just one win away from the Stanley Cup Final.
That's normal to be thinking about the fact we're up 3-1, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. I think what we have to do is be in the moment, be focused on the process that needs to be applied on the ice with the right intensity and the right emotion.
That's where I believe our leadership group is going to come in and make sure everybody understands what needs to be done. If you focus on that, then usually the results just take care of themselves.
Tim Panaccio is the NHL Insider for CSNPhilly.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org