Courtesy of Daniel Fung
THE PROVINCE REPORTS
On paper, the Ducks are favoured in nearly every area in this series. The Canucks however, figure they have an edge in goal, even if Luongo never beat the Ducks during the regular season, writes Jason Botchford.
Luongo an edge
"I think we have an advantage in goaltending," Canucks captain Markus Naslund said. "I don't think anyone can beat Luongo as far as goaltending matchups go."
Luongo promises to also do his part on the ice and insists he isn't looking at the past, specifically at his regular season record against Anaheim, but is instead looking at the future.
"Things that happened in the past have nothing to do with what's going to happen in the future," Luongo said. "We know we can compete against these guys and we have a chance tow in it if we do our jobs."
Expect a tough series
Jeff Cowan knows exactly what's going to happen in this series as far as physical play, and he knows he and his Canuck teammates will be ready to face the challenge, writes Ben Kuzma. The Canucks winger also realizes with the Ducks carrying the rough and tough' label, the Canucks might be able to goad them into taking some penalties as well.
"That's probably their game plan - it was against Minnesota - and that's what they're probably going to do against us," said Cowan, who had a game-high four hits Monday in the series-clinching 4-1 win over Dallas. "But we'll face it head on and keep battling. We just have to battle through all that stuff. If they want keep coming at us and fighting us, they'll just be in the box all night and that will help our game."
Still, with a physical series expected, the Canucks will definitely miss the presence of forwards Matt Cooke and Ryan Kesler, meaning bigger bodied guys like Taylor Pyatt are going to have to step up the physical play a notch.
"We have to make it hard on them," said Pyatt. "I know I have to use my size and get in the corners."
Odds stacked against
Province sports reporter Jim Jamieson has broken down the series into several categories and the Anaheim Ducks have the advantage in all-but-one: Goalies.
Jamieson gives the edge to the Ducks in terms of scorers, grinders, defence, depth, special teams and experience meaning the Canucks will have a tough hill to climb if they want to have a chance to come out of this series.
Friend vs. friend
Former Canuck boss Brian Burke insists he doesn't have any bitter memories from being fired by the club three years ago, writes Ed Willes. Still, one of the biggest storylines coming into this series is about the teacher vs. pupil, Burke vs. Nonis, even though Burke insists that isn't the case.
"It's going to be a lot bigger story in Canada than it is here," said Burke. "To me it's a non-issue. It's another team we have to play. All the people who gassed me are gone."
Burke also harbours no ill-will towards the Canucks organization, saying he is proud of what his former assistant-turned-GM Dave Nonis has done with the hockey club this season. However, this is as far as he would like his protÃ©gÃ© to go.
"My last year [in Vancouver] we won a divisional title. Dave was a huge part of that," said Burke. "He's got his own banner up there this year. I'm proud of him for that. But this is as far as I want to see him get."
THE SUN REPORTS
No mirror image
Heading into the series against the Stars, the general thought was how both teams were very similar to one another. This isn't the case against the Anaheim Ducks, writes Elliott Pap. The Ducks are built with a much more North American flavour, score more, fight more, have more size and a better power play. For the Canucks to have a chance in this series, they know they will need to limit Anaheim's chances as much as possible.
"There are a lot of difficult challenges playing Anaheim," said Vancouver defenceman Mattias Ohlund. "Selanne and his line are obviously their main guys, but Getzlaf and Perry have a lot of skill, too. We definitely have to stay out of the penalty box and keep their power play off the ice as much as we can."
The Canucks also know they have to keep their strategy simple, consisting of getting the puck in deep and limiting turnovers; trying to give as little opportunity as possible to a very potent Anaheim offence.
"We don't want to spend a lot of energy defending in our zone," said Vigneault. "They have two good lines that try to wear you down with a lot of cycling, so our defencemen will have to be good and our forwards will have to help them out."
Rested Ducks might give Canucks advantage in first game
The Canucks will be the tired team, but that might not be all bad, writes Brad Ziemer. While the Canucks were finishing their series against the Stars, the Ducks have had a chance to catch up on some rest. Teemu Selanne even got in a round of golf. And although the Canucks would have preferred to have a few days to heal those bumps and bruises, they think the momentum from their huge Game 7 win over the Stars will give them an edge over the well-rested Ducks.
"Personally, I see it being an advantage to us," said Vancouver winger Jeff Cowan. "I think just being involved in a game like [Monday night's] you are ready to go right back at it. I'd rather go right back at it than sit and wait, I think."
"Everybody is fine" says Coach V
Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo are both questionable for tonight's Game 1 against the Ducks, reports Elliott Pap. Bieksa openly acknowledge that he wasn't feeling well prior to boarding the team's flight to Anaheim.
"I'm not feeling good," Bieksa admitted during a round of interviews at Vancouver International Airport. "I don't know if I will be able to play. I'm not sure. I've had some blood work done and we're just waiting to see the results. Right now, I don't know exactly what it is."
Sami Salo, who fell awkwardly on his back in Game 7, said he had the flu but insisted he would play. Injured Canuck winger Matt Cooke is on the trip although he still hasn't skated since being injured. He is hoping to play in this series however.
Rory Fitzpatrick would be the likely candidate should Kevin Bieksa be unable to go for Game 1. The Canucks also called up defenceman Alex Edler although Coach Vigneault warned people not to read too much in that.
"Everybody is fine," Vigneault said regarding his two defencemen. "Edler was called up just for insurance."
There may be plenty of sunshine down in California where the Canucks are, but there certainly isn't much coming from the Vancouver Sun writers at least as it relates to the Canucks chances in the series.
Iain MacIntyre, Cam Cole, and Brad Ziemer all predict the Ducks will take the series in five games. Elliott Pap thinks the Canucks will extend it to six, but no further. Other predictions of note include NBC's Bill Clement, Ed Olczyk and Brett Hull, as well as CP's Pierre LeBrun who all pick the Ducks in five.
The one expert who's going against the odds? TSN's Maggie the Monkey, who also picked the Canucks to defeat the Stars in round 1.
THE LA TIMES REPORTS
Burke proud of fruit of his labour...but not for this series
Undoubtedly much of the storyline for the Western Conference Semi-Final series between the Ducks and the Canucks will focus on former Canucks GM Brian Burke, writes Eric Stephens. Burke spent six years as GM of the Canucks and although his loyalties lies solely with the Ducks now, Burke admitted taking some satisfaction in seeing the Sedin twins, the players he drafted in 1999, finally realize their potential.
"My first reaction is what took them so long," the general manager [of the Ducks] joked. "But like I said, I'm not a real sentimental guy except for my family. I'm not interested in the twins having a good series against us."
As for his relationship with Canucks GM Dave Nonis, Burke says they are friends now and will be at the conclusion of the series, regardless of what happens.
"My older daughter is Dave Nonis' goddaughter," Burke said. "This playoff series isn't going to affect that relationship. We've been friends for 20 years now."
Ducks won't take Canucks lightly, especially with Luongo
The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Canucks 3-0-1 in the regular season series, but they're not about to overlook the Canucks just yet. With two of those victories coming prior to December 1st, the Ducks know defeating the Canucks won't be an easy task, especially not with Luongo between the pipes, writes Lonnie White.
"We were fortunate enough to play them early in the season when they didn't have their A' game," Coach Randy Carlyle said of the Canucks, who surged late to win the Northwest Division. "They were a much different group in the last two games that we played them here."
As for facing Luongo, even the man who is expected to start for the Ducks couldn't help but admire his counterpart.
"They have a very good team that played very well at the end of the season and they have probably the best goaltender in the world right now," Giguere said. "It's going to be a lot of fun trying to figure this one out."