May 1, 2013, 11:24 AM EDT
Will Cory Schneider sink or swim?
Schneider finished the regular season with great numbers (17-9-4, .927 SV%), and he was especially good in March and April as Roberto Luongo was relegated mostly to the bench. But Schneider only has four career playoff starts — a pittance of big-game experience compared to the man he supplanted. The 27-year-old’s ability to handle stress and maintain an even keel will be paramount if the Canucks are going to have success. This, of course, assumes Schneider actually plays. He’s been nursing a “body” injury that’s kept his status for Game 1 up in the air.
Can Antti Niemi steal the show?
For all the talk about the Canucks’ goaltending — and lord knows there’s been enough of it — let’s not forget about the guy in the Sharks’ crease. Niemi, who backstopped the ‘Hawks to a Stanley Cup in 2010 (beating Vancouver along the way), put together a Vezina-caliber season in San Jose, starting 43 games and posting a .924 save percentage. “I think the lockout, in the long run, it’s been a good thing for me,” said Niemi recently. “I just got stronger. My legs got stronger.”
Can San Jose keep killing penalties?
The last time these two teams met, in the 2011 Western Conference finals, the Canucks rode their league-best power play to a five-game win. Vancouver scored nine times with the man advantage in that series. In 2013, however, the Canucks had just the 22nd-best PP (15.8%), while the Sharks dramatically improved their penalty killing, finishing the season ranked No. 6 (85.0%). To be fair to the Canucks, they did show some improvement late in the season, scoring on seven of their last 25 PP opportunities (28.0%). New addition Derek Roy has given them another play-maker up front.
What kind of hockey will we see?
Two years ago, the Canucks and Sharks were among the highest-scoring and most entertaining clubs in the NHL. But things, for better or worse, have changed since then. “We are not a run-and-gun team anymore,” Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin told CBC.ca recently. “You’ve got to be good in your own end. When healthy, I think this is as good a team as we have ever had.” Meanwhile, Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle put it this way: “Today’s game, there’s not so much pretty plays passing up and down the ice as much as there used to be. Playing quick is getting it out as quick as you can and playing in their zone.”
What’s at stake?
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault acknowledged Tuesday that his team’s window to win won’t stay open forever. If Vancouver bows out in the first round for the second straight season, the Vigneault coaching era may well be over. Likewise, there will be calls for Todd McLellan’s job if the Sharks don’t get to the second round. This is San Jose’s ninth straight postseason appearance, and the club has yet to advance past the third round. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and Dan Boyle can all become unrestricted free agents after the 2013-14 season.
Mar 31, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT
Joins Bossy, Gretzky, Dionne, Lafleur and Lemieux.
Mar 31, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT
3rd-round pick if it happens after the season, 2nd-rounder if it happens in-season.
Mar 31, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT
University of Minnesota blueliner inching closer to free agency.
Mar 31, 2015, 6:41 PM EDT
So the Hart will not, as some have suggested, become the Gretzky.
Mar 31, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
Blackhawks duo “had a good thing going.”
Mar 31, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT
Not just a team that scores a lot of goals.
Mar 31, 2015, 3:38 PM EDT
Could really use a win tonight versus the Rangers.
Mar 31, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
“I can speak from experience that home ice matters.”
Mar 31, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT
News and notes from around the crease…
Mar 31, 2015, 1:59 PM EDT
Florida’s season is essentially on the line.
Mar 31, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
Sportsnet’s Stephen Brunt, not pulling any punches.
Mar 31, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT
He was Florida’s first-round pick (23rd overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Mar 31, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT
Mar 31, 2015, 12:06 PM EDT
This after his team, Rogle, terminated his contract on Monday.
Mar 31, 2015, 12:01 PM EDT
Gave up four goals on 11 shots Sunday versus the Islanders.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:56 AM EDT
Just 2-for-33 over the last 15 games.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:39 AM EDT
Just one win in their last six.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:24 AM EDT
6-foot-5, 225-pounder led Charlottetown in penalty minutes this year, with 124.
Mar 31, 2015, 10:38 AM EDT
He finished tied for third in the country in assists last season.
Mar 31, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT
Los Angeles traded a first-round pick in February to get him.
- Video: Ovi becomes sixth player in history to record six 50-goal seasons 0
- ‘Almost like a game seven tonight’ for Bruins, Panthers 13
- Report: Warrant issued for Deveaux’s arrest following Swedish league attack 47
- How bad are things for the Kings after Monday? 19
- Lightning clinch playoff berth, but did they lose Hedman? 9
- Blackhawks tease good injury news for Kane 8
- Tough times in Tampa: Garrison out 3-4 weeks after ‘pretty dirty’ Abdelkader hit 22
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 29
- NHL on NBCSN: Stakes high for Kings, ‘Hawks tonight 21
- Blackhawks’ Sharp: ‘We knew we had to get two points’ 12