Despite Game 2 being in Vancouver, the Canucks are sleeping in a hotel tonight

When your team is fighting to win its first Stanley Cup in franchise history, it’s time to pull out all the stops. Sometimes that means going with “outside the box” strategies to get every little edge.

Game 2 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals will take place in Vancouver Saturday night (at 8 p.m. ET on NBC), but the Canucks made the decision to sleep at an area hotel instead of their own beds Friday. If you’re a Canucks fan with a devious plan to upset the Boston Bruins’ sleep schedules, you might want to make sure that the home team isn’t staying at the same locale.

While the “act as if you’re on the road when you’re at home” plan sounds silly, it actually makes a lot of sense. Professional hockey players probably deal with a lot of long-lost cousins and reemerging grade school friends looking for tickets during typical games, but one can only imagine the kind of requests they receive during a championship round. It makes a lot of sense for the Canucks to opt for the low-distraction route, even if it’s easy to imagine a collective group of hockey wives and girlfriends with their hands on their hips in disagreement.

Head coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t offer a comment regarding this policy, but a few Canucks players divulged some details about the plan to NHL.com.

“We did it Game 7 (of the Chicago series), Game 5 (of the San Jose Sharks series) and for all the Finals games,” he said. “There’s so many people in town, everyone’s trying to limit as many distractions as we can. Everyone gets a good meal the night before and it keeps it really simple for everybody.”

Added back-up goaltender Cory Schneider in his blog for NHL.com: “It simulates what life is like on the road where there’s nothing to focus on but hockey. Some guys want to be around their families, but I think there’s some peace and solitude in staying in the hotel that helps get them ready. We’ve had a lot of success doing, it so we’re sticking with it now.”

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The decision to sleep away from home while the series is in Vancouver, we’re told, came from the Canucks’ leadership group.

“The day before a game, it’s not a big deal, we just get together and focus for the game,” said captain Henrik Sedin, who to no one’s surprise is rooming with twin brother Daniel. “We’ve done it for some games and other games we haven’t, so it’s more on a game-to-game basis.

“So far we’ve done it for series-deciding games and in the final we’re doing it for every home game.”

The plan seems to be working out well at the moment; they’re 3-0 in the games Tambellini mentioned. Come to think of it, maybe the Bruins might want to steal that idea when the series shifts back to Boston. They were 24-12-15 in road games and 22-13-6 at home during the 2010-11 season, after all.

Something tells me that hotel managers in hockey markets across North America would love for this strategy to catch on throughout all of the NHL …

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too.¬†They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.