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.
Jul 7, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
That might take a while.
Jul 7, 2015, 5:19 PM EDT
The doctor, Kozlov, allegedly has a suspected head injury.
Jul 7, 2015, 4:07 PM EDT
Backes and Schwartz have one season left on their contracts.
Jul 7, 2015, 2:38 PM EDT
Was most recently an assistant under Randy Carlyle in Toronto.
Jul 7, 2015, 1:09 PM EDT
Coming off a 37-goal season.
Jul 7, 2015, 1:08 PM EDT
“He’s a reliable depth forward who we know is capable of contributing offensively at either level.”
Jul 7, 2015, 12:41 PM EDT
It’s been a long negotiation.
Jul 7, 2015, 11:59 AM EDT
Stepped in to play the final four games of the Stanley Cup Final.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:41 AM EDT
Milwaukee is trying to get a new arena built.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT
Jarmo Kekalainen brings a local boy into the organization.
Jul 7, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
“He’s obviously a great talent.”
Jul 7, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
In ESPN’s The Body Issue, of course.
Jul 6, 2015, 11:22 PM EDT
“It happened pretty fast. All of a sudden two fingers are not working.”
Jul 6, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT
25-year-old defenseman struggled mightily last season.
Jul 6, 2015, 8:48 PM EDT
Connor McDavid’s running mate in Erie was the OHL’s leading scorer last season.
Jul 6, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT
Quebec City and Las Vegas have already expressed interest.
Jul 6, 2015, 6:08 PM EDT
Russian forward is coming off a solid rookie campaign.
Jul 6, 2015, 5:48 PM EDT
It’s now a crowded crease in Edmonton.
Jul 6, 2015, 5:26 PM EDT
For the third straight year.
Jul 6, 2015, 4:29 PM EDT
That’s him in the blue shirt, standing next to ex-NHL goalie Dan Cloutier… who is 6’1.
- Big money: Tarasenko signs eight-year, $60 million extension with Blues 67
- Blackhawks extend TVR through 2017-18 3
- Good start: McDavid scores five in Oilers scrimmage 32
- Caps ink Kuznetsov to two-year, $6 million extension 9
- Bruins sign three — Hayes, Connolly, and DeFazio 12
- Babcock expects Kadri to be ‘an elite player’ 15
- No expansion bid expected from Kansas City 37
- Leafs sign Matthias — one year, $2.3 million 17
- Report: Kopitar, Kings in ‘early stages of negotiations’ for extension 12
- Arbitration filed: Holtby, Nyquist & Stepan highlight list released by NHLPA 15