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.
Sep 16, 2014, 10:39 PM EDT
“It’s extortion is what it is. I don’t make this stuff up.”
Sep 16, 2014, 9:22 PM EDT
Caps blueliner has had bad luck in the health department.
Sep 16, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT
Florida’s youngsters stole the show overall.
Sep 16, 2014, 7:18 PM EDT
And he’ll reportedly miss part of Minnesota’s training camp.
Sep 16, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
The former appeared in three games for Chicago last year; the latter played in Germany.
Sep 16, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT
Sep 16, 2014, 5:35 PM EDT
The future of Detroit’s defense gets locked in.
Sep 16, 2014, 4:33 PM EDT
Just one month after re-signing Jakob Silfverberg on the cheap.
Sep 16, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT
“Fines are meaningful. And I think it has to do with essentially being called out.”
Sep 16, 2014, 3:21 PM EDT
He’ll be part of the player development department.
Sep 16, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
We pick a couple of long shots.
Sep 16, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT
Kings forward “didn’t want to become a free agent and leave” L.A.
Sep 16, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
That’s him getting tossed around by Ryan Reaves.
Sep 16, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT
For “outstanding service to hockey in the United States.”
Sep 16, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT
Veteran power forward is trying to return from another concussion.
Sep 16, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT
Will the NHL be watching?
Sep 16, 2014, 10:13 AM EDT
Sounds like he got the message.
Sep 16, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
The recently signed forward hopes to stick with “powerhouse” team.
Sep 16, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Sep 16, 2014, 12:45 AM EDT
“It’s turned the corner for the better as far as rehab has gone.”
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands 17
- Advantage Kuemper? Harding on crutches after ankle injury 9
- Done deal, finally: Wings ink DeKeyser to two-year, $4.375M extension 9
- Update: NHL wants to see fine system in action before publicizing diving 5
- Get your odds to make the playoffs for all 30 NHL teams 18
- Blue Jackets GM to Johansen: It’s about the team, not ‘one guy’ 25
- Will the NHL publicize divers? 48
- Report: NHL, Epix network to partner on Winter Classic reality series 18
- Habs to play without captain for just second time in franchise history 16
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman 54