Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Canucks' Bieksa having a blast

Categories: Nashville Predators, Second Round, VAN vs. NSH

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By Tim Wharnsby,

Kevin Bieksa seems to be having a blast in this playoff run.

And why not? The Vancouver Canucks soon-to-be unrestricted free agent, who has a finance degree from Bowling Green University, is about to cash in. He's been the Canucks best defender on the ice and there with the best quips in the dressing room afterwards.

Following the Canucks 3-2 overtime win to take a 2-1 series lead in their second-round series against the Nashville Predators, there was Bieksa after playing a team-high 28 minutes and 42 seconds with enough energy to take some verbal jabs at his old defence partner, Shane O'Brien, who now toils for the Predators.

"Somebody go over there and tell their trainer to wash out his smelly gloves," Bieksa said slyly. "They have to be the stinkiest [sic] in the league and I'm sick and tired of having those things in my face."

Bieksa's days in a Canucks sweater were thought to be over because after general manager Mike Gillis traded for defenceman Keith Ballard and signed another in free agent Dan Hamhuis last summer, there wasn't much salary cap space to keep the 29-year-old Bieksa.

But with Sami Salo in recovery mode for the first four-plus months of the season because of a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Canucks had enough cap relief to keep Bieksa.

He wound up being a good partner for Hamhuis and one of the most consistent blue-liners for the Canucks all season. Now Gillis probably has to keep Bieksa as well as Christian Ehrhoff, also eligible for unrestricted free agency, in the fold this summer.

In the playoffs, the native of Grimsby, Ont. also leads the Canucks in ice time at 26:44 a game. He also leads the club with a plus-minus rating of plus-four. Ballard, meanwhile, has been a healthy scratch three times, including Tuesday evening.

Now if only Bieksa could do something about O'Brien's smelly gloves.

Sedin twins

Henrik and Daniel Sedin played their best game of the series, but because Henrik now has gone 10 playoff games without a goal this spring and they only have one assist between them in the series, they will continue to garner stress for their offensive slump.

Daniel did lead the Canucks on with seven shots on goal in Game 3, but the twins were on the ice for both Nashville goals and now are a combined minus-10 in the playoffs.