Make Canoe my Homepage

Canucks need to heed their own lessons

- May 3rd, 2013

VANCOUVER – The past does matter.

The Vancouver Canucks certainly can learn from their own.

A year ago, the Canucks found themselves in the very same situation they’re in right now, having dropped the opener of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the San Jose Sharks.

It’s a path they don’t want to travel again, remembering the end result.

“Yeah, don’t lose three in a row to start a series,” Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa said when asked what the lesson was from last spring’s five-game loss to the Los Angeles Kings. “And even losing two on home ice, I know they were close games, but you put yourself in a big hole.

“I don’t like using the phrase must-win, but it’s a very important game for us.”

Game 2 is Friday night in Vancouver.

The Sharks won the opener 3-1 on Wednesday, and can take a commanding lead in the best-of-seven series that switches to San Jose for the third and fourth games.

San Jose had a sparkling 17-2-5 regular season home-ice record.

“You don’t want to go down 2-0, with all the momentum going on them and going on to home ice,” Bieska said. “You win the second game, … and all of a sudden momentum swings and we have momentum go play them on their home soil.”

The Canucks appear to be making some changes to their lines, putting Ryan Kesler on a wing with Derek Roy and Chris Higgins.

However, changing lines won’t matter if the Canucks aren’t more assertive in the offensive zone.

(That said, Vancouver must do a better job of breaking out of it defensive zone, too.)

“Last game, we got in on the forecheck and they got out pretty easy,” Daniel Sedin said. “We need more time in their end. That’s going to tire them out and lead to more scoring chances, too.”

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San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi pushes away Vancouver Canucks Derek Roy (C) during Game 1 of their NHL Western Conference quarter final hockey playoff in Vancouver, British Columbia May 1, 2013. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

Step two in that regard will be creating more havoc in front of Sharks netminder Antti Niemi.

“Will,” was the response of coach Alain Vigneault in regards to what his team needed for that traffic to happen. “I saw (Brendan) Gallagher last night in Montreal. He’s not real big. You’ve got to go to the tough areas.”

In other news, injured Canucks No.-1 goalie Cory Schneider was part of a small gathering in a morning skate, but Vigneault said the netminder won’t be playing.

“He’s on the ice with four guys. He’s day-to-day,” said Vigneault, who added he’s “not sure” whether Schneider will travel with the team to San Jose.

As for Bieksa, he claimed not remembering the pitchforking he did to Martin Havlat in the first period of Game 1.

Havlat left the game and is doubtful for Game 2.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SunRandySportak

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