The Canucks received news of their first round playoff match up against the San Jose Sharks following their 7-2 loss in Edmonton Saturday night. Kevin Bieksa stated the obvious after the game, saying it’s “[n]ot the ideal way to finish the season, but we have to put it behind us and get ready for Game 1” (x).
Canucks’ captain Henrik Sedin is adamant that his team is playoff ready, despite closing out the regular season with 2 consecutive losses. He feels that the Canucks dominant 3-1 win over the Blackhawks last Monday night was more reflective of the team’s playoff readiness: “that was a game that mattered for us and we showed up and played our best game of the season…we have to look back at the things we did well in that game and go from there” (x).
The Canucks will have to bring the same energy they showed against the Blackhawks if they want to defeat the Sharks for the first time this year, with the Sharks having swept the Canucks in their season series matchup, something that does not phase Henrik Sedin. The former Art Ross champion remains positive, explaining that at the end of the day “[y]ou can be successful against a team [during the regular season] and then you play them in the playoffs and it’s a totally different series” (x).
The Canucks and Sharks have recent playoff history, in which Vancouver eliminated San Jose in just 5 games during the 2011 Western Conference Final. “Yeah, we won that series” reminisces Kevin Bieksa, who is prepared for this series to go to the distance: “I think we expected to go to seven games and that’s kind of the way we’ll approach it again [this year]” (x). The 2011 series, has the Canucks feeling confident in what to expect, “[i]t’s always a good matchup against those guys…It’s a team we have seen a lot so there is not going to be a whole lot of surprises…I’m sure it is going to be an exciting series” (x) said winger Jannik Hansen, who is eager to be a contributor this post season, having just played his best season as a Canuck, notching 27 points (10 goals and 17 assists) in 47 games.
Sharks’ Logan Couture says his team is excited to be kicking off the playoffs in Canada and are eager to redeem themselves for the 2011 series. “We are going to have to play well against them, they are a good team. They have a lot of skill…It should be a good matchup” (x). San Jose’s starting goalie Antti Niemi has not forgotten the 2011 series either, admitting, “[i]t’s a tough city to play in” (x), and is hoping that this time around the Sharks will fair far better than the last time these two teams met in the post season.
While there is no question about who will be getting the nod in net for the Sharks in game 1 on Wednesday night, the starter for the Canucks is questionable. Cory Schneider is still recovering from an undisclosed “body injury” and could miss the start of the series. Never fear, Roberto Luongo will be there, “100-per-cent committed to the team” (x), in typical Roberto Luongo fashion, if Schneider is a no-go.
Game 1 of the series is set to start Wednesday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.