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.
Oct 31, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT
The hit occurred seconds before Vancouver scored.
Oct 31, 2014, 6:07 PM EDT
Hasn’t played since Oct. 8.
Oct 31, 2014, 5:36 PM EDT
Could play Saturday against Washington.
Oct 31, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
At the same time, Claude Julien admits the B’s “are still trying to find that confidence level that comes with winning on a regular basis.”
Oct 31, 2014, 4:14 PM EDT
All the latest from the blue paint.
Oct 31, 2014, 3:10 PM EDT
“I just haven’t come to that decision yet.”
Oct 31, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT
When Philly takes on the Panthers in Florida.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
Veteran forward is hurt again.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT
On a professional tryout contract.
Oct 31, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT
Former 13th overall pick doesn’t want to comment on trade rumors.
Oct 31, 2014, 1:48 PM EDT
Club is dealing with a team-wide bacterial infection.
Oct 31, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT
“He was the bettor. He bet on football games.” And that, according to Steve Bartlett, is all he did.
Oct 31, 2014, 12:52 PM EDT
We’d say we were surprised, but we totally thought this could happen.
Oct 31, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT
Hurricanes forward was benched Tuesday in Vancouver.
Oct 31, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT
“We’ve given up a lot of goals and we need to be better, help our goaltenders out.”
Oct 31, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT
Antti Raanta retains the backup gig behind Corey Crawford.
Oct 31, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT
Dallas has lost two straight.
Oct 31, 2014, 10:58 AM EDT
As most expected they’d do with the No. 2 overall pick.
Oct 31, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT
With AK Bars Kazan.
Oct 31, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT
They’re building a $350 million arena with AEG, which owns the Kings.
- Burrows suspended three games for ‘late hit to the head’ on Emelin 0
- Blues say Center for Disease Control hasn’t been to Scottrade, don’t plan on it coming 4
- Agent: Vanek was not ‘involved’ in money laundering 7
- Even after big changes, Isles still struggling defensively 12
- Back to junior: Sabres return Reinhart to WHL Kootenay 4
- Report: Phone hearing for Burrows, who says hit on Emelin wasn’t late 33
- Video: Burrows catches Emelin with a late hit (Updated) 12
- Report: Thomas Vanek involved in money laundering scandal 36
- Video: Devils (finally) win a shootout 4
- Video: Lucic and Stewart drop the gloves 24
- Video: John Moore with an elbow to the head of Erik Haula (Updated) (62)
- Report: Varlamov being sued by ex-girlfriend (47)
- Kreider calls Brodin hit a ‘bang-bang play,’ doesn’t plan to dramatically change his game (46)
- No hearing scheduled for Kreider after Brodin hit (44)
- Kopitar out, Lombardi irate as Kings will play shorthanded vs. Flyers (40)