Sharks-Canucks preview: More trash talk

May, 18, 2011
5/18/11
3:12
PM ET

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- So, will we see Joe Thornton again inviting Ryan Kesler to dance at the opening draw of Wednesday night's Game 2 of the West finals?

"Who knows, who knows," the Sharks' captain said Wednesday after the morning skate. "Maybe Devin wants to fight somebody."

Devin Setoguchi chuckled when he was told about that.

"Maybe I'll take the opening draw," he joked.

All kidding aside, it's clear there's no love lost between Thornton and Kesler. The Canucks star said Wednesday morning that he's never had that kind of invitation at an opening faceoff.

"No. Who knows? He's trying to be tough, I don't know," Kesler said. "I don't deal with that stuff in between whistles. If he wants to fight me, obviously I play him four times next year -- he can fight me next year."

Kesler has dropped the gloves in his career.

"I fought [Jarome] Iginla, I fought a lot of tough guys. I fought [Ian] Laperriere, I'm not scared of anybody out there," Kesler said. "I'll fight anybody, but now is not the time."

Told that Kesler said he didn't want to fight during the playoffs, a sarcastic Thornton responded: "I'm shocked, very shocked."

Kesler understands what Thornton was trying to do and wouldn't bite.

"That's probably going to be his job, to get under my skin, and it's not going to happen," Kesler said. "I've dealt with that all year. It's not a part of my game anymore."

Teammate Alex Burrows said Kesler made the right decision.

"Obviously, they have watched tape of how good Kes was against Nashville, and maybe two or three years ago, Kes would have tried to get under Joe's skin," Burrows said. "It seems now the tables have turned and Joe wanted to get at Kes, but we need Kes on the ice. He's such a good player. He plays everybody hard. It was really good to see him play the way he did."

Samuelsson done?

Mikael Samuelsson hasn't played since Game 5 against Nashville in the second round, when the Canucks forward suffered a lower-body injury. His season might be over. When asked Wednesday morning whether Samuelsson might join the team on the road to San Jose in this series, Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said "no" without giving any other details.

Meanwhile, the Canucks were leaning toward inserting winger Jeff Tambellini into the lineup for Game 2 in the place of Tanner Glass, although Vigneault would not confirm that Wednesday.

On the Sharks side, Jason Demers will be a game-time decision after missing Game 1 with an undisclosed injury. If he can't go, Kent Huskins will replace him again.

The second line

San Jose's most consistent line in these playoffs has been the second unit of Logan Couture between Ryane Clowe and Dany Heatley, but the unit was quiet in Game 1 and needs a much better performance in Game 2.

"We just didn't skate well," Couture said Wednesday morning. "You're not going to have your best game every night; those are the facts. But we just didn't skate, we didn't win battles in their end. It's not like we weren't trying; we want to win badly, but we weren't skating well. We looked tired."

East excitement carries over to West

Both West coaches were buzzing about Tuesday night's game in the Eastern Conference finals, a wild 6-5 win by the Bruins over the Lightning in Boston.

"I thought it was a pretty good game really," Vigneault said. "Maybe you saw some interesting moments from both teams -- Boston giving up the goal in the first minute, the goal in the last minute [of the first period]. That's always challenging. That's momentum shifters, obviously. Then, they come out and they score great goals in the second period, get a 6-3 lead, then give them two goals. It's momentum. It's playoff hockey. You could feel the tension on the ice. Great game for the fans."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan joked that if Game 2 of the Western finals was the same kind of game, he hoped the Sharks would play the role of Boston.

"I thought the game was exciting," McLellan said. "There was a point where you were going to turn it off and move on to your next task, and all of a sudden, Tampa was right back in it. ... I think that's great for hockey; nobody's ever out of it. We talk about giving up some leads in the third period. I counter with saying, 'We came back from 3-0, 4-0 deficits.' That can happen right now. ... There were a lot of fans not sitting in their seats but standing in them. That's great for our league. At this time of the year, that's what you like to see."

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