Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Canucks applying lessons learned

Categories: Nashville Predators, VAN vs. NSH, Vancouver Canucks

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Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, left, sprawls across the ice to stop Vancouver's Daniel Sedin during the second overtime period of Game 2. (Darryl Dick/Canadian Press) Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, left, sprawls across the ice to stop Vancouver's Daniel Sedin during the second overtime period of Game 2. (Darryl Dick/Canadian Press)

By Tim Wharnsby

The Vancouver Canucks claim they have learned a hard lesson from their mini two-game slump in the first round and that has them zeroed in on finishing off the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

In the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Canucks built up a 3-0 series lead only to see the defending Stanley Cup champions rebound with three consecutive wins of their own and force a stressful seventh and deciding game.

Now with a 3-1 series lead against the Predators, the Canucks don't want to present their opponents with any chance of a momentum swing as they did with the Blackhawks in the first round, when the Canucks endured a couple of clunkers in Games 4 and 5.

"If there was one lesson to be learned from Games 4 and 5 it was that you have to make sure you put your work boots on," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.

"There are going to be times when you outplay teams, but don't win. That's going to happen. But you want to give yourself a chance to win with a good effort."

After the Blackhawks took two games to climb back into the series, they upended Chicago in Game 6, too, even though the Canucks played much better and were the better team in the game.

"Momentum changes quickly in the playoffs," said Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who leads his team in ice time at 26 minutes and 29 seconds a game.

"We can't sit back and wait for things to happen."

There are several factors why the Canucks want to close out their second-round series at home. They don't want to take another five-hour charter flight back to Nashville. They would have more preparation time and get more rest with a win, especially if the San Jose Sharks close out the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

Oh, yeah and spending Mothers' Day at home would be a nice perk, too.

"That's a good point," Bieksa said. "There are a lot of factors.

"We just don't want to give [the Predators] a chance to get any momentum to go back home."

With all the overtime the Canucks have played so far through 11 playoff games, they have played an extra 66-plus minutes.

Dominant Canucks

The Canucks have out-shot the Predators 138-117 in the first four games of the series. They have dominated special teams with three power-play goals in 12 opportunities and have gone an impressive 14-for-15 on the penalty kill. Yet, each of the games in this series have been nail biters.

"I don't see why people would expect anything else," Vigneault said. "All the teams are so close."

Staying on Nashville time

How will the early 5 p.m. PT affect the Canucks? Well, to combat the time zone change from Central to Pacific, the Canucks tried to stay on Central time in their return to Vancouver.

While the Predators opted not to conduct a morning skate on Saturday because they practiced on Friday in Vancouver, the Canucks did hit the ice at 9:30 a.m. PT at Rogers Arena after they did not skate on Friday. The 9:30 a.m. skate was the exact time they would have skated for the two games in Nashville.