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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Updated: June 2, 10:24 PM ET
Dan Hamhuis day to day after Game 1

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis left Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals with an apparent leg injury early in the second period.

Hamhuis was injured four minutes into the period after throwing a low hit that sent Boston forward Milan Lucic spinning head over heels.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault was predictably tight-lipped about the injury, calling Hamhuis day to day.

"He's fine," Vigneault said after the Canucks' last-minute 1-0 victory.

When pressed for the specific nature of the injury, Vigneault said, "You know I am not going to answer that. Let's call it middle-body injury tonight."

Hamhuis dropped to the ice Wednesday immediately after it appeared he took Lucic's knee in the midsection as he made the hit. He also took a couple of shots from Bruins forward David Krejci, who was penalized for cross-checking, as a scrum broke out around him.

"He hit Luch (Milan Lucic) and then I was going there," Krejci said after the game. "I was going to give him a push but just before I did it he fell down. I don't know. He fell down and that's what happened."

Hamhuis, who anchors Vancouver's shutdown pairing with Kevin Bieksa, was hunched over as he skated to the bench, and hobbled to the locker room after crawling over the bench. Hamhuis has a goal and five assists and is plus-5 while averaging almost 26 minutes of ice time -- most against the opposition's top forwards -- during Vancouver's first run to the finals in 17 years.

"Going down to five D midway through the second, with the intensity that was out there, was obviously taxing on our group," Vigneault said. "I thought the five guys that handled the workload did a real good job of sharing the time. I thought our best period was our third period. We were down to five D at that time."

Veteran defenseman Keith Ballard might have to step in if Hamhuis is forced to sit out on Saturday night.

Ballard was good enough to earn a six-year, $25.2-million contract extension from the Florida Panthers in 2008, and he showed enough to interest the Canucks, who traded a first-round draft pick and top prospect Michael Grabner -- a rookie of the year finalist -- to the Panthers to get him last summer.

Ballard just hasn't been good enough to play regularly in the playoffs. That hasn't been easy on the 28-year-old defenseman who waited six seasons for his first taste of the postseason.

"There's times you just want so bad to be out there," Ballard said. "You want to be coming off the ice after a big win and in the locker room after the game with the guys, and going through a hard-fought game with them."

A series of injuries limited Ballard to only 65 games this season, which started slowly following hip surgery last summer. Ballard was brought in to be a top-four defenseman, but now is finding difficulty just cracking the Canucks' lineup.

Ballard was in it at the start of the playoffs but was replaced after a blowout loss in Game 4 of the first round against Chicago. He didn't get back on the ice until Game 7 when he filled in for injured Sami Salo.

Ballard played the first two games of the Western Conference semifinal series against Nashville before Salo returned, and he was in the lineup for the last two games of the conference finals against San Jose because of injuries to Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome.

"Without those two games it becomes quite a long time," Ballard said.

The Canucks used 13 defensemen this season, including 42 games from veteran Andrew Alberts, who hasn't played in the playoffs, and 29 from rookie Chris Tanev, who played in the last two games of the conference finals.

"If we need somebody to play minutes, I'm confident they'll be able to step in and do a real good job for us," Vigneault said.

The defensemen are largely interchangeable, but Ballard seems a logical choice, especially because he plays the left side. Ballard also is fast enough to evade Boston's forecheck that Vigneault admitted was more aggressive then he expected in Game 1.

It also helps that Ballard spent the previous two seasons in Florida, where he also played with Nathan Horton, who is now on the Bruins' top line.

"Being familiar definitely helps," Ballard said. "Playing with their guys you know a few of their tendencies, but they know what you are going to do, too."

If he does get in, Ballard said playing will be easier than sitting helpless in the stands.

"I get so nervous watching. There's nothing you can do," he said. "You can't allow the personal feelings and negative feelings to get into your head because once that starts it's hard to stop, and then you start making excuses for yourself and that can't happen.

"We're all pulling for the same thing, we all want to win the Cup and get our name on it. Whether you contribute a little bit or contribute a lot, your name still gets on there."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.