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Question of the Day
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (AP) - Although Bruno Mars’ skating probably needs work, the Hawaiian singer is upstaging the Stanley Cup finals this week.
The clubs are working out Thursday and Friday at Thunderbird Arena on the University of British Columbia’s picturesque campus southwest of downtown Vancouver. The complex also hosted men’s and women’s hockey games during the Vancouver Olympics last year.
Rogers Arena employees began dismantling the Canucks‘ boards and glass moments after Game 1 in preparation for a show by four-decade-old British band Supertramp on Thursday night. Mars and Janelle Monae take over Friday.
Both teams practiced only lightly on Thursday, with most of Vancouver’s key players staying off the ice.
But after a slow start to his NHL career that included several stretches of healthy scratches, Hansen’s willingness to adopt a decidedly Canadian style of play has kept him in the Canucks‘ lineup, even putting him in a big third-line role in the postseason.
“I got a couple of wakeup calls,” Hansen said Thursday. “Obviously not being in a lineup is a big one. If you want to play on a team that’s going to be competitive and compete for the Cup, you need to fill whatever role is given to you. You look at our lineup, there’s only so many players that can play on the first and second line. If you don’t have the skills that they do, you have to find a different way to contribute.”
Hansen made a beautiful pass to set up Raffi Torres‘ goal with 18.5 seconds left in Vancouver’s 1-0 win Wednesday night. He combined with third-line mates Torres and Maxim Lapierre to produce 10 hits and 10 shots, including several great scoring chances before the decisive goal.
Hansen didn’t reach the NHL in a straight line, going back to the Canucks‘ AHL affiliate in Winnipeg for retraining stretches in recent years. He played alongside three-time Stanley Cup champion Mike Keane with the Manitoba Moose.
“I think he had a great role model in Mike Keane, who really helped him with positional play, penalty killing,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “It’s paid off. He’s been with us now for a couple consecutive years. He’s logging important minutes. Last night was a great game where he used his skill set. He’s real good when he plays with an edge. He played with an edge last night, and that came in very handy for us.”
Hansen has two goals, five assists and a plus-7 rating while playing in each of Vancouver’s 19 playoff games.
BOYCHUK’S BLUNDERS?: Johnny Boychuk has been on the ice for the last seven goals scored against the Bruins in the playoffs, but coach Claude Julien isn’t about to air any complaints about the defenseman.
“Let’s put it this way: At this time of the year, I’m not going to come in here and criticize my players,” Julien said during a news conference following practice. “We’re going to deal with it internally. I think what we have to do here is regroup as a team and play better.”
In the final minute of Game 1, Boychuk lost the puck to Ryan Kesler. Vancouver’s star center eventually got the puck to Jannik Hansen, who fed Raffi Torres for the game-winning goal _ and further cemented many Bruins fans’ frustrations with Boychuk.
“I think if you ask him, he knows he probably could have played that last goal a lot better,” Julien said. “We all know that, but we all need to move on right now.”
Boychuk also has made important contributions to the Bruins‘ playoff run, including the game-winning goal in the series-clinching victory in Boston’s second-round sweep of Philadelphia.
Hamhuis was injured while going low to send big Bruins forward Milan Lucic head over heels in Game 1 Wednesday. Although Hamhuis staggered off the ice after the play, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault declined to update his sturdy defenseman’s condition, only saying he’s day-to-day.
Ballard is the logical choice to replace him, and the veteran blueliner has a history of sending opponents spinning in the air by lowering his hips _ a lost art in the NHL.
Ballard already sent a couple of Blackhawks flying in the first round. He was called for clipping on a hip check on Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo in the second round, and he delivered a head-over-heels hit in the Western Conference finals to San Jose forward Jamie McGinn, who flattened two Canucks defensemen earlier in the series.
“It’s a lot easier for me to get a bit lower rather than going shoulder to shoulder,” the 5-foot-11 Ballard said. “I’m usually the one who gets knocked down then. (Hip checks) don’t happen very often because it takes a lot of timing, and 99 percent of the time, guys have their head up. If you go for (a hip check) and they see you, they just step inside you, and you miss.”
NOTES: NHL scoring champion Daniel Sedin took eight shots in Game 1 without scoring a goal. His brother, playmaking center Henrik, didn’t register a shot on goal. That’s no surprise to Henrik: “We had eight together, that’s how I see it.” … Vancouver G Roberto Luongo posted the first 1-0 shutout in a Stanley Cup finals opener since 1984, when Grant Fuhr did it for Edmonton against the New York Islanders. … The Bruins‘ shutout loss was the franchise’s first in the Stanley Cup finals since May 10, 1977, when Montreal’s Ken Dryden blanked them. … Kesler has seven goals and eight assists in the Canucks‘ last 11 playoff games.
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