Antti Niemi, Mason Raymond

Video: Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick preview San Jose-Vancouver Game 1

Tonight sees the Western Conference finals get under way from Vancouver as the Canucks face off with the San Jose Sharks. While the Sharks are coming off a legendary seven game series against Detroit, the Canucks have had a lot of time comparatively to prepare for the conference finals.

San Jose will look to keep the good things going as they’ll look to captain Joe Thornton to continue his rock solid play along with potential Conn Smythe candidate and Sharks leading playoff scorer Ryane Clowe. They’ll need to get continued solid play from Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle as well as hoping Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley can bring their “A” game.

Vancouver has high hopes of their own as Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo look to stay hot while they hope to get the Sedin twins going offensively. If the Canucks can make that happen, look out.

Hockey Central’s Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick take a look ahead to Game 1 to break down what each team will need to get their series started on the right foot.

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Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara
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Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: