Mikael Samuelsson and Alex Edler are among Canucks players hoping to get healthy for next season

There are a lot of drawbacks to coming painfully close to winning the Stanley Cup, but the lingering effects of the literal pain that comes with a deep playoff run might be one of the most underrated issues. The Vancouver Canucks were a banged up team late in the 2011 playoffs and the largely unchanged club will have to come back from injuries in what Ian MacIntyre points out is the shortest off-season in franchise history.

While the team might need to adjust to life without Ryan Kesler for training camp and perhaps the beginning of the regular season, other players hope to shake off their own ailments. MacIntyre caught up with Mikael Samuelsson, Marco Sturm and Alex Edler, the only veterans of eight Canucks skaters participating in an informal skating session as they try to shake off injuries. MacIntyre notes that almost double the number of veterans get things started early during most summers when there is a longer layoff.

Samuelsson saw his playoff run cut short once he was forced to undergo abdominal surgery, but he seemed optimistic about his recovery. Edler played through the pain of having two broken fingers and admitted that he’ll get them re-evaluated since they’re still causing him issues.

Canuck general manager Mike Gillis cautioned last week it would “take time” for players to get back to work.

But the late arrivals, short turnaround time and several injuries migrating from last season to this one – Edler, for example, said Monday two fingers broken in the final still haven’t fully healed and he will be re-evaluated next week – make you wonder if Stanley Cup hangovers afflict only the victorious.

Will the Canucks be behind other teams when the season starts?

“I don’t think so,” Samuelsson said. “Let’s see how we respond this year. Where I was before, guys, myself included, really wanted to get back on a winning note. I don’t think we can have less expectations this year. It’s not easy to go to the finals, but we know we’re one of seven or eight teams that is really good.

“When you feel you have a chance to do something and you have a good team, that’s when in my mind you’re eager. ‘We’re going to go to the finals again’ – that’s maybe not the right approach. You take one step at a time. Start off with a good training camp.”

The Canucks’ schedule might lend itself to some feelings of a hangover when it might just boil down to a tough start. Four of their first five games are on the road, although that’s followed by five of six in Vancouver. The toughest stretch of the early season comes in the beginning of November, though, as they play six consecutive road games against Western Conference opponents. Vancouver should be in good shape if they can be successful during that run and also survive a tracherous February schedule that starts with a four game road run and then finishes with six consecutive games away from Vancouver.

The good news is that the team hasn’t lost many players, but that also means that few players will be well-rested. There won’t be much of an injection of new blood, a problem that’s even more pronounced when you consider the injury history of newly added forward Sturm.

Then again, the Canucks have rolled with the punches from injuries and tough scheduling in recent years, so there’s reason to believe this season won’t be any different. That being said, it might be tough for this team to put together the kind of dominant regular season that they pulled off in 2010-11.

Vancouver should have bigger picture goals than producing another outstanding regular season anyway, though.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky
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Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

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Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?