Video: Flames, Canucks combine for over 100 PIM in wild line brawl

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VANCOUVER — With less than two minutes remaining in the Canucks’ 4-1 win over Calgary in Game 2 of their opening-round series, this happened:

Pugilism!

The brawl came after a chippy 58 minutes of action in which the Flames, stymied for most of the night by Vancouver’s tight checking and the goaltending of Eddie Lack, started to get physical; Michael Ferland took a healthy run at Chris Tanev that ended with a charging penalty midway through the third, and both Dennis Wideman and Yannick Weber were given 10-minute misconducts with less than five to go.

Then came the fireworks. Nobody’s quite sure of the total penalty minute tally yet, as the game officials still appear to be working out the figures, but the incident easily eclipsed 100 PIM all told.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if the NHL’s Department of Player Safety opts to review any of tonight’s events; Deryk Engelland received an instigator penalty late, on top of two (yes, two) fighting majors and two (or possibly three) game misconducts.

There also could be a review of Dan Hamhuis, who was the third man in on the fight between Engelland and Derek Dorsett.

Sedin says tonight’s game versus Flames is ‘must-win’

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After blowing a third-period lead and surrendering the lsing goal with 30 seconds left against Calgary in Game 1, the Canucks are feeling the pressure for tonight’s all-important tilt at Rogers Arena.

Just as Daniel Sedin.

“I don’t think we played a bad game last game, but we lost,” Sedin said, per Sportsnet. “Tonight we look at it as a must-win.”

Sedin has been a hot topic over the last 24 hours, thanks in large part to his ice time in Game 1. Vancouver’s leading point-getter in the regular season played just 16:14 while fellow forwards Nick Bonino (16:24) and Chris Higgins (16:53) played more.

“We play our best when we’re fresh,” Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins explained of his ice-time distribution. “Maybe [the Sedins] should have had a couple more minutes, probably wouldn’t have hurt. But … there’s no sense burning them out one game.

“They’re going to be fresh for the next game, and maybe in the end that’ll pay off.”

In light of those comments, it’ll be interesting to see how much Desjardins plays the Sedins tonight — especially if it’s tight in the third period, like it was on Wednesday. Sedin played just 4:45 in the final frame in Game 1 ; by comparison, grinding winger Derek Dorsett played 4:59.

Canucks sign Dorsett and Sbisa to multi-year extensions

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The Vancouver Canucks have signed forward Derek Dorsett to a four-year contract extension and defenseman Luca Sbisa to a three-year extension.

Dorsett’s new deal is reportedly worth $2.65 million annually, while Sbisa’s cap hit is reportedly $3.6 million.

“Derek has been an incredibly valuable member of the Canucks roster, both on and off the ice this year,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning in a release. “His willingness to chip in both offensively and defensively while standing up for his teammates at all times has been instrumental to our success all season.”

On Sbisa, Benning said: “Luca has been a big part of our backend all season, logging big minutes during key stretches and doing anything that is asked of him by our coaching staff.”

Initial reaction:

— That’s a big commitment to keep a bottom-six forward like Dorsett, no matter how much he sticks up for his teammates. That being said, there’s no question the 28-year-old has made an impact since being traded by the Rangers to Vancouver in June. He’s fought 17 times, leads the team in hits (163), and has chipped in offensively with seven goals and 18 assists.

— Sbisa came to Vancouver in the Ryan Kesler trade with Anaheim. At the time, Benning saw Sbisa as a “guy that we feel can grow into a top-four defenseman.” Safe to say, the jury’s still out on the 25-year-old. Sbisa, the 19th overall pick in 2008, is a physical defender, and the Canucks like that about him, but he’s also been on the ice for a lot of goals against.

Linden on returning the Canucks to the playoffs: ‘It’s been a good year’

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The goal for the Vancouver Canucks was to return to the playoffs.

Last night, that goal was achieved. The Canucks clinched their spot when the Kings lost in Edmonton.

It begs the question — after all that went wrong last season — how did they do it?

“It started with just trying to have a plan going into it,” said Trevor Linden, the club’s first-year president of hockey operations, on TSN 1040 radio (audio).

Linden, hired a year ago tomorrow, went on to hire Jim Benning as the team’s new general manager, who went on to hire Willie Desjardins as the new head coach.

“Bringing Jim in really shaped the vision for this organization,” said Linden, referencing the numerous roster decisions that were made in the wake of last season’s disastrous campaign, from trading Ryan Kesler and Jason Garrison, to bringing in Ryan Miller, Nick Bonino, and Derek Dorsett.

“And then of course, Willie has done an amazing job,” Linden added, noting the bounce-back seasons being enjoyed by the Sedins, Alex Edler, Alex Burrows, and Jannik Hansen, “these guys that were kind of lost last year.”

“It’s been a good year,” said Linden. “We’ve accomplished the goal we set out. Now it’s about making some noise here in the playoffs, and we look forward to that.

“Having said all that, we also recognize it’s one year. We’ve got a lot of work to do, we know that, and we’re prepared for that.”

That last remark is key. Because the Canucks, despite making the playoffs, remain long shots to win the Stanley Cup. They still need to keep restocking for the future — in particular, their blue line, which has looked old and slow at times. Currently, there’s no blue-chip defensive prospect in the system.

But that’s a topic for the offseason.

“It’s so satisfying to set a goal for this team to get us back to the playoffs,” said Linden.

“The easy way out is to just strip it down and blow it up and start over and draft in the top five every year. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to continue to build this team and be a playoff contender every year.”

Healthy Canucks make for ‘really tough’ lineup decisions

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All of a sudden the Vancouver Canucks have a numbers problem.

With 24 healthy skaters (15 forwards and nine d-men) available for tonight’s home game versus the Flyers, coach Willie Desjardins is being forced to make some tough decisions.

“It’s really tough and that’s one of the strengths of our team right now and it’s kind of how we handle it,” Desjardins said yesterday, per The Province.

“It doesn’t matter who comes out, it’s going to be questioned because whoever I take out doesn’t deserve to come out. They’re all good players. If I say this guy is coming out, people will say: ‘Why him?'”

As of this afternoon, there was no word which forward would come out to make way for the expected return of Alex Burrows. Candidates include wingers Ronalds Kenins, Derek Dorsett, and Zack Kassian.

Except…

— Kenins provides a ton of energy and has developed some real chemistry in a bottom-six role with fellow rookie Bo Horvat.
— Dorsett, another bottom-six energy player, just had a 3-point night Saturday versus the Leafs.
— Kassian has been skating on the first line with the Sedins, and has five goals in his last 10 games.

For Desjardins, it’s one of those good problems to have.

“It could work for veterans, they could get a day’s rest and that could help because we have to give ourselves the best chance to win,” he said.