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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 …

Gather your lucky charms, 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight

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Honestly, it’s tough to blame people for making Edmonton Oilers jokes in regards to the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.

Really it’s only human nature to drop one-liners about the perennial cellar-dweller that (seemingly) always lands the No. 1 pick.

Will it happen again this time around? We’ll find out soon enough, more precisely sometime around 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

As you can see, the Oilers do not have the best odds to land the top pick … but they’re close:

A reminder: this time around the lottery will determine the top three picks. The NHL discusses that tweak and other changes here:

For the first time, the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will assign the top three slots in the first round of the NHL Draft – a change from prior years, when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection exclusively.

Want the full lowdown on the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery? PHT has you covered here.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Some reading to get you pumped up:

– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media (reportedly).

Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.

T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.

– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).

Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win.

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.