McLellan: 'We'll have our hands full'
The Vancouver Canucks have an 0-2-1 record against San Jose in the 2013 season series. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
It was only a matter of minutes after the final horn sounded in the Sharks’ regular season finale in Los Angeles, that talk turned from a mostly meaningless game to the upcoming playoff opponent.
And, wouldn’t you know it, the same thing happened in Edmonton, where the Canucks closed out their season. Here’s a sampling of what some of them had to say about facing the Sharks in the first round, courtesy of the Vancouver Sun.
“We played against them two years ago in a very close series,” Henrik Sedin said. “They are built like a lot of other teams in this conference. They are big, they have got some very skilled guys. So it’s going to be tough.”
Kevin Bieksa said: “Obviously, they have a lot of skill up front and they have been playing well ever since the trade deadline. They made a couple of moves and have been playing really good hockey.”
Winger Jannik Hansen referenced the Canucks’ 0-2-1 record against San Jose in the 2013 season series, as well as its captain and leading scorer.
“We have had some good games against them this year,” Hansen said “We haven’t had a whole lot of luck against them, but again it’s a building we are familiar with. We know what to expect from them and I’m sure it is going to be an exciting series.
“Obviously you think of Joe Thornton. A big centerman, they are a very talented team, very good on the power play, they come really hard at you, especially in their rink. It’s a team we have seen a lot, so there is not going to be a whole lot of surprises. You are going to know what to expect from them.”
Vancouver ended its season with a 7-2 loss to the Oilers, but was resting a number of regulars as it was locked into the three seed. Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows sat, while defensemen Alex Edler, Jason Garrison and Dam Hamhuis also did not dress. Henrik Sedin played all of 22 seconds to keep his consecutive games streak intact at 629.
The Canucks, like the Sharks, ended the season playing very well. Vancouver went 13-6-1 including losing its last two games of the regular season after it already had the Northwest Division wrapped up, while the Sharks were 12-5-1 in their last 18 games.
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Marty Havlat missed the Sharks’ game on Saturday with an undisclosed injury despite taking part in warm-ups.
Had home ice in the first round still been a possibility for the Sharks, Havlat probably would have played, head coach Todd McLellan indicated after the game.
“Everybody has bumps and bruises at this time of the year. He took warm-ups, and when we saw what the results were in St. Louis, we decided to get [Tim] Kennedy in for a night.”
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Not to make anyone nervous, or anything, but…
Logan Couture skated for just 11 minutes and 50 seconds in the game. According to the official play-by-play, he was last seen on the ice with 9:17 to go in the third, after taking a hit in the neutral zone from the Kings’ Trevor Lewis.
McLellan may have opted to sit Couture at that point, as the Sharks’ young star appeared to be fine when he met with reporters postgame. No one noticed in time to ask the coach about it after the game.
By the way, Couture’s second period goal had a couple assists added postgame to TJ Galiardi and Brent Burns, to pad their season totals a bit.
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Will Canucks goalie Cory Schneider be ready in time for Game 1? According to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault couldn’t confirm whether Schenider would be he healthy after missing the final week of the regular season with an undisclosed injury.
Of course, the Canucks have a pretty well known backup in Roberto Luongo, who is less than two years removed from taking his team to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Schneider, though, supplanted Luongo as the team’s starter and was outstanding down the stretch. The 27-year-old finished with a 17-9-4 record with a 2.11 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.
"If Schneids is healthy, Schneids is going to play," Vigneault told the Sun. "If he's not, we have total confidence in Roberto."