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Your requisite Vancouver Canucks playoff injuries post

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With the 2011 Stanley Cup finals – and therefore, the playoffs – over, it’s time to get answers/speculate some more on the injuries that hampered both teams. We’ll address the newly crowned champion Boston Bruins later on, but let’s get to the wounded warriors on the losing end first.

(Source: The Vancouver Province.)

First, let’s get to the players who discussed their injuries a bit more openly.

  • Alex Edler said he was playing with two broken fingers.
  • As many suspected, Christian Ehrhoff was dealing shoulder issues. He needed shots before games and probably lost quite a few mph from a blazing (but often wildly inaccurate) slapper. Ehrhoff told the Vancouver Province that he’ll probably need surgery.
  • Chris Higgins said his foot never felt “quite right” but didn’t go as far as to say that it was broken. He did imply that he might need surgery, though.

Now let’s get to two players who weren’t quite confirmed.

  • Ryan Kesler was one player who wouldn’t speak on the record about injuries, preferring that people avoid using his issues as a crutch to explain the Vancouver Canucks falling just a win short from their first-ever Stanley Cup win.
  • Dan Hamhuis was rumored to miss most of the finals with a torn groin muscle, but wasn’t around to confirm or deny the reports.

Kesler wasn’t willing to lean on the injuries excuse, but teammate Jeff Tambellini knew that something wasn’t quite right.

“I think every stride hurt him,” said Tambellini. “He never showed it. He never talked about it. We never heard about it all day and this guy is at true warrior. The fact he even came back is mind-blowing. To skate with the puck as much as he did. He took his game to a different level this year and should be rewarded by the rest of the league. Everybody appreciates what he brings and playing as hurt as he was outstanding.

“He put himself on a superstar level and it’s going to be great to watch the rest of his career.”

(snip)

But that didn’t make it any easier. Tambellini walked into a dressing room Wednesday that looked more like a hospital ward.

“There were probably shooting six guys up today,” said Tambellini. “We dealt with a lot of adversity this year and to do that and come up one game short is a real credit to this group.”

Obviously, every team deals with some injuries, especially this late in the game. Still, stories like these show over and over again that hockey players fight through pain (and sometimes injuries) for a chance to win the Stanley Cup. The Canucks fell one game short of that goal, but they deserve credit for their efforts in defeat.

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.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.