The Vancouver Canucks are looking to ignite their offence and end their struggles on home ice as they prepare for the second game of the Western Conference quarter-final series with the San Jose Sharks on Friday (CBC, 10 p.m. ET).
Vigneault is looking for his team to put more pressure on Sharks netminder Antti Niemi. Vancouver’s best chances came mainly from outside in Game 1, and the coach wants his players to move the puck up ice and crash the net like they can.
“Our players, in my mind, are battled tested, they’re pressure tested,” said Vigneault. “At the end of the day, it’s about making plays. We need to make more plays. We need to make more plays out of our end to get through that neutral zone better.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin also want to see the Canucks improve their forecheck after they remained winless in four encounters with San Jose, including three in the regular season. After the Game 1 loss, the twins said the Sharks were able to move the puck out of their zone with ease.
In another potential shakeup, the Canucks recalled forward Brendan Gaunce, the team’s first round pick, 26th overall, in the 2012 draft. Gaunce had 22 points (8 goals, 14 assists) in 17 OHL playoff games with the Belleville Bulls.
But Vancouver’s recent home records suggests it could recover quickly at Rogers Arena. The Canucks won eight of their last nine regular season games at home.
Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle doesn’t expect the Canucks to feel overly pressured at home, because they’ll realize one loss does not automatically kill their Stanley Cup hopes.
Vigneault wants his team’s leaders to stress that point, too, while realizing the importance of the games.
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