Western Conference Finals: Vancouver vs. San Jose

The Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks finish one-two in the Western Conference this season and will square off to see who advances to the Stanley Cup Finals. Both teams find themselves at this point after surviving comeback scares during the playoffs. In round-one the Canucks were up three games to none against the defending champs Chicago Blackhawks and were forced to win a game seven…the Sharks faced the same deal against the Detroit Red Wings in the second round, finally getting past the Big Red Borg last night 3-2.

They met 4 times this year with the Canucks going 3-0-1.

On November 26 The Canucks pounded San Jose 6-1 then won again 4-3 just after New Years. The last two meetings were decided by way of a shootout with the Sharks winning 2-1 on January 20 and the Canucks coming out with a 5-4 victory on March 10.

The Canucks finished the regular season 54-19-9 and their 117 points won the Presidents’ Trophy. They are making their first trip to the Western Conference Finals since 1994.

Your pick in the WCF

  • Vancouver (59%, 66 Votes)
  • San Jose (41%, 46 Votes)

Total Voters: 112

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Their penalty-kill play helped push them past the Nashville Predators as they denied the Preds 20 times on 21 man-advantage situations, including going five-for-five during the series-clinching game-six win. The one goal they did allow to Nashville was made up for with a shorty on the other end.

Vancouver went 4-18 on the power play during their second round victory over Nashville.

Ryan Kessler’s 15 overall points, (5 goals, 10 assists) leads the Canucks in scoring. At the time he’s tied with Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk who finished the playoffs with 4 goals and 11 assists.

“He was unbelievable,” Henrik Sedin said of Kessler. “He plays PK, power play and 5-on-5, and he does it all really well. It was fun to watch him this series, and we’re going to need him to continue to play this way.”

“[Kessler] obviously decided to drive the bus, and he obviously was our dominant force on the ice.” Head coach Alain Vigneault added. “He played real strong at both ends of the rink and we needed that performance. And we need it to continue.”

But he understands others will have to help pull their weight in the ECF.

“We need some other guys to come on board here because it’s not going to get easier, it’s going to get tougher.”

Daniel Sedin’s 6 goals lead the Canucks, (6 goals, 4 assists). Brother Henrik has 8 assists and 1 goal.

Robert Luongo is 8-5 with 2.25 GAA, .917 SV% and 2 SO. He had a 1.64 GAA and .932 SV% in the six games versus Nashville.

Forward Mikael Samuelsson needed help getting off the ice during the third period of Saturday’s Game 5 loss, suffering a lower-body injury. He didn’t travel to Nashville for the game-six win over the Preds and is not expected to return anytime soon.

As for the San Jose Sharks…they won the Pacific Division with a record of 48-25-9 and 105 points. This the third time they’ve reached the conference finals, the second time in as many years, and have yet to make get to the SCF.

They find themselves here after knocking off a very pesky LA Kings team before having to gut out a seven-game war with the Wings, no small fete according to team captain Joe Thornton.

“I’m sure there were a lot of doubters who said we probably couldn’t do this,” he said after Thursday series-clincher. “But that’s two years in a row we’ve beaten a pretty good team, so I think we’re a pretty good team now, too.”

Ryan Clowe’s 13 overall points lead the Sharks during the playoffs. His return to the lineup after missing game six with an upper-body injury clearly gave a boost to the Sharks in game seven.

Devin Setoguchi and Logan Couture each led with 6 goals. Both Couture and Setoguchi scored goals in the first period last night to stake their team to a 2-0 lead heading into the break.

Thornton has a pair of goals and nine assists.

Goalie Antti Niemi is seeking his second trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, doing so last year with the Blackhawks. He’s 7-5 so far this postseason with a 3.01 GAA and .906 SV%.

As one should expect with a conference finals that match up the numbers 1 and 2 seeds, this should prove to be a very entertaining series. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it goes seven games, but I think I’m going with the Canucks to win in six.

72 comments Add your comment


May 13th, 2011
10:10 am

Sorry Gang, there was a little hic-up in the blog engine that locked up the comments. It’s fixed now.

Oh and BTW….FIRST! :cool:

Tom Lysiak

May 13th, 2011
10:11 am

Second….this was fixed!!!


May 13th, 2011
10:12 am

Put me down for Vancouver in six as well, to go with my previous TBL in six.

Tom Lysiak

May 13th, 2011
10:12 am

Going for the upset, Sharks in 7.


May 13th, 2011
10:21 am

I did OK in the first round (6-2), but really took it on the chin in round 2 (1-3). So, I’ll take my less than impressive 7-5 record into the conference finals and go with:

Boston in six
Vancouver in five


May 13th, 2011
10:26 am

Russ – I went 7-1 in the first round and 3-1 in the second, (lost by going with Sabres and Wings respectively).

10-2 isn’t so bad, except Red Light is 11-1 having picked the Sharks over Wings….and now I owe him a drink or five at TJs.

JT from Columbus

May 13th, 2011
10:36 am

Man I’m so bummed right now I couldn’t even watch the game. I’m still trying to explain to my 9 yr old why we won’t be able to go to anymore games. I think after the Thrashers are gone it will take me a long time to watch anymore NHL..


May 13th, 2011
10:39 am

Wow! 5 drinks! Damn you Wings! Vancouver has the advantage over the Sharks and has all season. That being said, The Sharks play in a much better division than Vancouver does. I still think Van is the real deal and I believe that SJ is struggling with identity issues. Niemi hasn’t EVER lost a playoff series. Yeah, I know he has only played in 6, but hell, that is impressive and he looked good last night while changing his phaser settings when the Big Red Borg was just pounding SJ in the 3rd (yup, jock and nerd at the same time – some of you will understand that comment).

HP Arena was freaking LOUD last night! So cool to see – it seriously sounded like the Gold Medal game. Good fans out there in NoCal and whoever said that Cali doesn’t deserve 3 teams – I disagree, they put out some pretty good teams (side note, I would like to see a team in Alaska but there just isn’t the population to support one and the cost of Away games would be crazy).

I am so going for Tampa over Boston and definitely crossing my fingers. I know this is the obvious statement but I will say it anyway – it will come down to goal tending. Rolo vs Timmy. Strap on the glove and duke it out. It is pretty clear to me that Timmy is a better tender but it is also clear that Tampa has the better scoring lines. As we saw in the SJ series, Detroit was more experienced and a bit bigger but SJ tired them out. I expect the same in the ECF. Tampa’s forwards can flat out FLY.


Vancouver in 6
Tampa in 7


May 13th, 2011
10:40 am

You mean pesky LA Kings, not Anaheim Ducks. Get your facts straight.


May 13th, 2011
10:41 am

Here is an interesting thought – If 2 of GB’s expansion teams make it to the SCF, does that finally validate his expansionist vision?


May 13th, 2011
10:42 am

Arnie – please elaborate – i’m not getting your jive.


May 13th, 2011
10:47 am

Rawhide – Congratulations, you and Red Light have been very impressive thus far. Do any of his picks in the conference finals differ from yours to give you a chance to catch him?

Regarding the possible relocation of this franchise, I am wondering if the fans that frequent this blog will continue to follow and support the team in Winnipeg (or wherever they end up), or if they are only interested if the team remains in Atlanta? I have been a Thrasher fan from the beginning, but I am not from the area, so I will continue to be a fan wherever they end up. Obviously, I feel for all of you from the area that have ever supported the team and would prefer a new ownership group could be found to keep the team there, but IMO it is not looking good.


May 13th, 2011
10:48 am

ZAvs – What Arnold was so politely pointing out was my error in citing who the Sharks first round apponent was. Brain fart on my account.

And yeah…Red Light certain to hold me to that wager, I’m sure.

JT from Columbus – I know how ya feel, buddy. But don’t give up the ship just yet. There are many turns this story can take, I think it’s wise to just take a wait and see attitude.

I still don’t think Bettman wants to give up this market without making some sort of an effort to save it, but as long as the Spirit Clowns have any say in determining our fate, I’ll continue to have a queazy, uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Russ – Thank you…and I think Red Light picked Boston as I did. He’s travelling right now so I’ll wait to see who he picks in the WCF. Were I in his position, I’d pick the Canucks too. That would guarantee I couldn’t catch up.

Uncle Milty

May 13th, 2011
11:01 am

Hey Iceman,

perhaps you should pen another blog like this one, mocking Winnipeg again and it’s chances of buying the Thrashers…



May 13th, 2011
11:23 am

Unfortunately, I’m with JT. Tough to get excited about other cities’ teams while we watch ASG push ours 1,500 miles north.

Sage of Bluesland

May 13th, 2011
11:44 am

Pulling for the Canucks in the worst way–I can’t stand the very sight of Dany Heatley. To think he has a chance to etch his name on the Cup makes me ill.

Of course, because of that, I’m expecting the Sharks to win. I used to really like the Sharks, too–until they acquired the speeding quitter/betrayer….Now I can’t stand them. Same with Ottawa–I actually respected them until they traded for him. Don’t care about them anymore.

Why can’t Dany and Donny go riding together? That would solve alot of problems…

Will L

May 13th, 2011
11:52 am

Can we get a new blog about all this ownership mess? Maybe even email it to Bettman (gbettman@nhl.com)? We need someone with a brain, not idiot schultz or bradley, to write about what is really going on with all this mess so it can be posted all over the NHL world. Call out those ASG f*&^%$#@$%^*(&^%$^#^%$*%%*&^$&^%$^%&^%%%^$^(*_)**&^#$$#%$%$%$$s who are trying to make us and the city of Atlanta seem like the bad guys. You speak for Thrashers fans. We need a major riot and noise to stop the Canadian and ASG pillaging of our team, using facts and reason. I wish I could write something like that. Help us Obi Wan Rawhide. You’re our only hope.

Atlanta Spirit Sucks

May 13th, 2011
12:01 pm

Will L

May 13th, 2011
12:22 pm

here is my email to Bettman:

Mr. Bettman,
I am just one of many thousands of Thrashers fans that have been trampled on, lied to and mistreated by the current owners of the Thrashers. Please don’t let our team leave Atlanta. I know that if the Thrashers are allowed to be sold and moved to Canada my and my family and friend’s support of the NHL with leave with them. I was not a fan at all of hockey until I moved to Atlanta after college. So friends here took me to a game and the Thrashers made the playoffs and I was hooked. So friends and I even took a vacation to Toronto and Montreal to see the Thrashers play the Leafs and Canadians. Sadly during that trip we learned of the incompetence of our owners and direction our team was headed when Hossa was dealt at the trade deadline to the Pens the day of the Montreal game. I have still supported the Thrashers to this day and will continue to do so as long as they remain in Atlanta. I, along with EVERY Thrasher fan, can not wait for the day that it is announced that the Thrashers have been sold to a local owner and the team is staying long term. You WILL notice a massive boost in attendance at Phillips arena when that happens. But if the Thrashers leave, I, along with countless others in Atlanta and Georgia and Alabama will no longer support the NHL or care about hockey. I know that I am just one fan out of millions in North America and thousands or maybe even millions in Atlanta. But I am sure that many others here feel the same way. Please don’t let this happen to our team and our city of 5.5 million.

Everybody send one to gbettman@nhl.com

Joe Friday

May 13th, 2011
12:27 pm

Rawhide, the deal’s done. Look and listen to the interviews with Levenson and Bettman yesterday, as well as Daly’s comments. The deal is already done and they’re just waiting a bit of time now to announced it, Levenson laughed when asked if he was going to be owner next year. All you need to do is to listen to the the comments from all 3 (Bettman, Daly, and Levenson) were they’re toeing the line of the story they’re going to feed us, all 3 said “we’ve been trying to sell for a long time” and “my job is to continue to sell to someone local”. Balderdash. The deal is done and the NHL is in on it, in every single other instance Bettman stood up and publicly said that he’d keep the team in place . . . he’s never said one time that he’d keep Atlanta in place, all he ever says is “you know my track record on that” . . . the story line they’re going to feed us is that they tried for 6 years to sell the teams and couldn’t keep them in place, which is bullcrap. No one was buying these clubs with that lawsuit going on.

Who cares about the NHL right now, I’m literally done with them and could not be less interested in the 4 clubs left to boot . . . the NHL has proven themselves to be a Mickey Mouse league time and time again from the incompetent refs, the ludicrous handling of head shots and other rulings from Colin Campbell, standing up for Phoenix and throwing us under the bus . . .

Russ, that would be a negatory . . . I’ll probably look at the standings from time to time, but no way no how I would continue to root for them.


May 13th, 2011
12:43 pm

SOB, I’m not really a big fan of you, but I usually respect your comments, however, intending that Danny and Donny get in a wreck together is a bit past the line.


May 13th, 2011
1:08 pm

I’ll actually be rooting for the Sharks. I am, gulp, going to look past that Heatley is on their team. I know. That’s hard to do. It really is. But, objectively, San Jose has been, consistently, one of the better teams of the NHL since 2003-04. This is their 3rd trip to the CF. They underachieved under Marty Schottenheimer, I mean, Ron Wilson. But now, under McLLelan, I think they could actually do it. I am, however, concerned about the way in which they failed to closeout the Red Wings. Ultimately, playing this extra hockey, could hurt them in the next round. I think history is smiling on Vancouver, ever since Sidney Crosby scored the OT winner in the Gold Medal game vs. the United States. I think the road team will win most of the games, but Vancouver will find a way to survive Game 7. Who knows, maybe the Canucks will get out to a 3-0 series lead, and win in OT of Game 7, again? It’s just been that kinda crazy, in these 2011 playoffs. Indeed, “History is being Made.” All these 3-0 series that go the distance really is remarkable.

Okay, to recap, my Cup Finals see TBL vs. Vancouver. Echoes of 2004? Bolts over the Flames, in seven. Hard to believe that Tampa Bay could be skating another Cup so soon, no? Makes me wonder if we could have just drafted 1st overall in 2008 and 2nd overall in 2009 where we might be today? Naw. We saw that. Stefan, Heatley, Kovalchuk, Lehtonen, and poor ownership and bad management. And now, maybe relocation? Shaking my head. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. How can anyone blame Kovalchuk anymore?

Atlanta Flames Fan

May 13th, 2011
1:17 pm

Congratulations Gary,

Congratulations for saving the Coyotes fans for now.
Congratulations for saving your reputation that you stuck your neck so far into the sand.
Congratulations for recovering the NHL’s expenses for operating the Yotes by getting a $60M relocation fee from Atlanta.

Congratulations for artificially manipulating the free market by keeping a relocation buyer for the Thrashers on the Market.
Congratulations for making it easy for ASG to separate the Thrashers from the Hawks and Philips Arena. If it wasn’t for your actions to save Phoenix, and if ASG was really that desperate, they might have taken a lower offer for all 3 entities. Instead, they will be able to maximize their profit by separating the 3.

I will apologize to you if the Thrashers do end up staying in Atlanta, but I do not see that happening.

Mr. Willson

May 13th, 2011
1:31 pm

I blame Andy Sutton, just because.


May 13th, 2011
1:37 pm

Gary Bettman and the NHL/Versus/NBC propaganda machine has been riding the Vancouver bandwagon all year making it sound like everyone else is playing for second place. If anyone watched any of the SJ/Vancouver games this year (which I watched all of them), they were decided in shootouts or the closing seconds of the game other than the 6-1 blowout. People like to bag on the Sharks for being playoff flops but the Canucks have been around literally twice as long as the Sharks and have never raised a cup either.

Kessler has really been the only one producing for Vancouver in the playoffs and could easily be a Conn Smythe winner if they get to the Final. On the other hand, the Sedins are not doing much to live up to their hype so far. The scoring for the Sharks has been deep and Niemi has been a torment to the Canucks in years past. Thornton played the game of his life last night and Marleau returned to his form of Mr. Clutch after the Roenick comment, so I expect that they will have a big series so as not to repeat the result of last year’s sweep. The Sharks had to earn their series win over Detroit this year and Im expecting that they’ll take that Game 7 intensity at HP Pavilion and park it on Luongo’s doorstep in Game 1.

As for TB I dont see them solving Tim Thomas right away and if they do it’s gonna be on a lot of dirty goals in front of the net. Both teams are rested and it should be a grind from start to finish.

Boston and SJ in 7 each.


May 13th, 2011
1:40 pm

Root for San Jose and Tampa. Nontraditional, and nonCanadian, teams. Watch Canada’s head explode.
And if they leave, I won’t follow or root for the team. The only questions are whether I get Center Ice again, or see hockey in the 9 rinks I have left.


May 13th, 2011
1:46 pm

Who cares who wins? It is hard to focus on other teams when so much is going on with our own team.


May 13th, 2011
2:42 pm

Just spreading the word –

Posted in Atlanta’s Nasty Nest on Facebook.

So, if you haven’t gotten this from The Thrashers Fan Club already, a friend of mine sent me this message the other day so I’m just spreading the word. If you guys have the time, please write an email in a “non- Nasty Nest” fashion ;) and write a kind note to Bettman showing our support for our boys.

“Hey yall! hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far. Kincade and I are lobbying for fans to POLITELY email commissioner Gary Bettman and asking him to publicly give his support to the Thrashers and our current ownership situation. He will do so if we get a ton of people to email him! So PLEASE pass this email address along BUT make sure to tell fans to be very polite and classy when asking for support. After all, why would he help us if we were rude to him?

Email is gbettman@nhl.com

Thank u! And pass this email address along to as many fans, message boards, etc u can, but please don’t forget to tell people to send nice, classy emails. Thanks!!!”

Donovan McNubb

May 13th, 2011
3:33 pm

Kesler. One S.

Should be a great series.


Hoof Arted

May 13th, 2011
3:55 pm

I like the Sharks in seven, but it’ll be interesting if either of these teams get out to a 3-0 start in the series. Both have seen three games leads dwindle down and be forced to pull it out in a seventh game so their battle tested.

Thanks for keeping a blog open to discuss the action still going on on the ice BlogMaster.


May 13th, 2011
4:24 pm

Sherry, thanks, I sent mine. We deserve at the very least one season to see if someone steps forward that makes hockey their priority.
It is hard to care about the playoffs right now, but I do think this is Vancouvers year in the West. However, I am rooting for Guy Boucher and the Lightning to win it all. He has impressed me as a great coach, teacher and person. Also, despite being rivals, when it is down to the SE vs. anyone else, I have to root for our part of the world.

Fan from Carolina

May 13th, 2011
4:36 pm

I also appreciate Rawhide’s commitment to the NHL as well. It seems a lot of the ‘rah-rah’ Thrashers fans are just that, Thrasher fans, and not hockey fans. It’s been nice not reading about how the Thrashers are better than so many others. I look at the NHL in the real world and when I see a below average product on the ice I just can’t put the blinders on and pretend.
Now back to the Western conference finals, this is a tough one because so many players on both teams seem to disappear regularly and everyone seems to see how panic-striken both clubs can be when trying to win the 4th game of the series. I’ll go with the Sharks just because of them holding off the Red Wings vs the Canucks holding off the depleted Blackhawks. Someone has to win but neither will win the Cup. It is going to Boston or Tampa Bay this year.

Alan R.

May 13th, 2011
4:40 pm

Question for you all.

Has exclusive negotiating rights been agreed to with TNSE?

C-Viv is putting the cart way before the horse in claiming the Thrashers are “95% gone.” He’s reporting only what the ASG tell him to.

ASG have their media leverage in place. This, as much as I completely hate the group of morons, is an admirable strategy on their part. The onus is now on the local buyer to make a serious run for the properties.

Jay Clemons (@SI_JayClemons) has been tweeting recently that “this is a marathon, not a sprint.” I see what he means.

Lastly, if you need help figuring out whether the Thrashers have actually moved to Winnipeg yet, look no further than here:


Fan from Carolina

May 13th, 2011
4:41 pm

When it all starts tomorrow night I sure hope the Versus announcers (Emrick, are you listening?) can be impartial, otherwise I’d just as soon tune in Edwards and Peckham.


May 13th, 2011
4:54 pm

Bummer, camping, going to miss both game 1s. Probably going to freeze my arse off. Good luck on your picks!

Red Light

May 13th, 2011
5:36 pm

Luongo vs Niemi. Kesler vs. Pavelski. Thornton vs. Henirk. Marleau vs. Daniel. Boyle vs. Edler. etc. etc. etc.

Having been taken to seven games and the mental pressure of it means the Canucks have a huge advantage over the Sharks who proved once again they don’t have a mental edge even though they won. The Canucks win over the Preds in Game One was a huge hurdle and having proven they can win on the road means trouble for San Jose. Canucks are too fast, too deep and too skilled for San Jose, and they have proven they can withstand another team’s best effort. The Canucks sweep or win in five, because they are the better team. That means Bill and I have the same picks for the Conference Finals, which means I will hold a one-game edge going into the Cup Finals. Sorry, but I don’t see the Sharks winning this series, although I hope they do and face Tampa Bay in the Finals. However, I am picking against both of them.

Go Bruins, even though I am not a fan, I did pick them to win it all on October 8 and will continue to hold out hope they do.

Have a great weekend boys and enjoy the games.


May 13th, 2011
5:56 pm

San Jose in 5, Boston in 7 – Luongo will not be able to withstand the San Jose barrage of high quality shots coming his way. After Vancouver loses game 1, he’ll start choking as usual.

Baldheaded Thrasher Fan

May 13th, 2011
8:01 pm

San Jose and Tampa in the finals…guess I’ll be doing fall fishing trips and NASCAR with my STH refund.

Hey Nash how about some sort of dicount on packages with the hotel rooms for the hockey fans from ATL?

We haven’t had anything to cheer about for quite awhile….I’ve been thinking to going to the select a seat on May21st to see where I’m at in Wng!

Keep The Thrashers - Please "like us"

May 13th, 2011
8:16 pm

Join us on facebook. We have been contacted by potential ownership groups who say they are impressed with the number of “likes” and dedication by the great hockey fans in Atlanta. We know many of you and we know you love hockey. Pass on the link via email and let’s show potential investors fans will support a REAL ownership group:


Alan R.

May 13th, 2011
10:35 pm

Whoa, crap.

Derek Boogaard found dead in his apartment in MLPS.



May 14th, 2011
1:30 am

Let’s hope this is the end of the line for Bertuzzi, a dirty player that should never have played another game in the NHL after breaking another player’s neck. I hope he has a headache 24/7 every day for the rest of his life. http://bit.ly/lekTzA

World Be Free

May 14th, 2011
8:18 am

After ragging on Marleua for so long, hegets the GWG in game 7. Nothing fancy, he just went to the net. Not that hard, ay Patricia?

I want San Jose, but I think the Nucks will take it in 6.


May 14th, 2011
9:23 am

Red Light picked Boston on 10-08-10. If this comes to pass, that’s quite an achievement, considering that coming into the season, teams like Washington, Philly, Vancouver, San Jose, and Detroit, along with Pittsburgh, were the teams most thought would be represented in the Finals. Way to go, Red Light, for sniffing out the Bruins from the rest of that pack. I believe I had Washington vs. Vancouver as my #1 choice, then Pittsburgh vs. San Jose as my 2nd choice. I didn’t see the Bruins as Cup winners, last Fall. I, truthfully, thought Tuukka Rask would be the # 1 goalie, and instead, it’s been Tim Thomas all year long.


May 14th, 2011
9:42 am

Hockey needs to be back on ESPN. I don’t have Versus and I never know when a game will be on NBC.


May 14th, 2011
9:42 am


May 14th, 2011
9:44 am

With Vancouver and SJ in the Conference Finals, what series lead could be safe??

World Be Free

May 14th, 2011
10:28 am

Brendan-shows you that goaltending is THE most important element of a winning hockey team. Rask and Thomas make each other better every day.

Nucks and Sharks both have top flight goaltedning and team defense. This could be a low scoring series for sure.


May 14th, 2011
3:06 pm

Very shocking and saddening news about Boogaard. May God be with his family.

Hockey Jerseys

May 14th, 2011
6:34 pm

Vancouver Canucks will win the NHL Championship!


May 14th, 2011
7:48 pm

Rawhide – awesome article about your soon to graduate TE! I know you all are incredibly proud.