May 1, 2013, 11:24 AM EST
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 1, 2015, 1:37 AM EST
They’ll play again on March 8.
Mar 1, 2015, 1:03 AM EST
San Jose completed its disastrous month with a loss to Ottawa.
Mar 1, 2015, 12:42 AM EST
In other words, he’s probably not going to be dealt before the trade deadline.
Feb 28, 2015, 11:52 PM EST
The Coyotes might not be done dealing yet.
Feb 28, 2015, 11:11 PM EST
Steve Mason was solid in his first start since undergoing knee surgery.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:41 PM EST
He’s continuing to make his case for the art Trophy.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:12 PM EST
Chicago also added Kimmo Timonen on Friday.
Feb 28, 2015, 9:24 PM EST
Stakes are high for Philadelphia after Boston and Florida won.
Feb 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EST
His leadership and the confidence that he brings might provide Florida with a big boost.
Feb 28, 2015, 8:24 PM EST
Arizona is threatening to drop to 29th in the NHL, which would be big as far as the draft lottery is concerned.
Feb 28, 2015, 7:51 PM EST
Philadelphia is trying to salvage its bid for a playoff spot.
Feb 28, 2015, 7:37 PM EST
A recent report suggests that Boston is interested.
Feb 28, 2015, 6:55 PM EST
He’s been released from the hospital.
Feb 28, 2015, 6:02 PM EST
Alexey Marchenko scored his first career goal.
Feb 28, 2015, 5:34 PM EST
That gives some teams extra roster flexibility.
Feb 28, 2015, 4:45 PM EST
Was injured on a hit from Seth Jones.
Feb 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EST
He’s been the subject of trade rumors lately.
Feb 28, 2015, 3:35 PM EST
News and notes from around the blue paint…
Feb 28, 2015, 2:07 PM EST
The former Caps’ forward reunited with Bruce Boudreau.
Feb 28, 2015, 1:15 PM EST
He’s being evaluated in hospital.
- Flyers keep faint playoff hopes alive with win over Rangers 18
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder 48
- Jagr earns high praise in his Panthers debut 0
- Bruins maintain four-point edge in playoff race, hand Coyotes ninth straight loss 4
- NHL on NBC: Rangers look for a fourth straight win against the Flyers 7
- Ducks score four third-period goals, come back to beat rival Kings 9
- Blackhawks aren’t done talking trades, will look to add another forward 13
- Flyers trade Kimmo Timonen to Blackhawks 39
- Video: Couture fined $5K for slew-footing Smith 22
- Time to start winning — Bruins’ next four games are against non-playoff teams 17
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trading baggage: Blue Jackets grab Clarkson, send Horton’s contract to Leafs (66)
- Lindros files $3M defamation lawsuit against ex-referee Stewart (Updated: Now $250K) (65)
- The plummeting Coyotes are threatening to fall below the Oilers into 29th place (55)