Canucks say Game 7 loss makes them stronger

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VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (AP) - The Vancouver Canucks say losing Game 7 of last season’s Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins taught them some valuable lessons that will help them this season.

“The experience makes you stronger,” defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. “It makes you better, it makes you mentally stronger.

“I think we have the major pieces all back. We are all better because of last year. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be better this year.”

Better means winning the Stanley Cup.

Veteran Mikael Samuelsson understands better than most of the Canucks how hard it is for a team to return to the final. He played for the Detroit Red Wing teams that won the Cup in 2008, then lost to Pittsburgh in 2009.

“It’s a bit of a grind and we know it’s going to be a long year,” said Samuelsson, who had his playoffs cut short due to surgery to repair an abdominal injury last spring.

“We have to start off from Day 1 doing the right things.”

The Canucks were a dominant force in the league last season.

Vancouver won the President’s Trophy for the best record in the NHL while setting franchise records with 54 wins, 117 points and 27 road victories.

The Canucks scored more goals than any team and allowed the least. They had the NHL’s best power play and third-best penalty kill.

Daniel Sedin knows it will be hard to repeat those totals.

“We did that last year because we had a good team,” said Sedin, who won the NHL scoring race with 104 points and was got the Ted Lindsay Award as the players’ MVP.

“Can we win the Stanley Cup without scoring that many goals? Of course we can. We were a good team last year. We are a good team this year.”

Canucks general manager Mike Gillis managed to keep the nucleus of his team intact, resigning free agents such as Bieksa and veteran defenseman Sami Salo.

Vancouver’s top line remains the same _ captain Henrik Sedin playing center between twin brother Daniel and scrappy winger Alex Burrows.

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