Stanley Cup finals Game 5: Looks like Chris Tanev will replace Keith Ballard for Canucks
Greetings from Vancouver, where the Canucks had a well-attended morning skate in advance of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins on Friday at Rogers Arena. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis, injured in Game 1, again didn’t skate but Coach Alain Vigneault said Hamhuis will accompany the team back to Boston for Game 6 on Monday.
Vigneault almost never discusses lineup decisions, but based on who came off the ice early and who stayed out to skate with the players who are usually scratched, it appears Keith Ballard will be out of the lineup and Chris Tanev will be in on the Canucks’ defense in Game 5.
Ballard struggled in Game 4 and was -2 defensively. Asked about Tanev, who has appeared in only two playoff games and bounced between the Canucks and their Manitoba farm team this season, Vigneault was careful not to give away his intentions.
“When we've used Chris this year he's real steady, can make a first pass at the forecheck,” Vigneault said. “He's a kid that was playing in Manitoba, and we got in injury trouble and he came up and did a real solid job for us.”
Tanev, 22, played one season at the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology, whose program was elevated to Division I in 2005.
“He’s has had a great year for us and came kind of out of nowhere. Came from a great program at RIT,” teammate Kevin Bieksa said, drawing laughter from reporters who surrounded him.
“No I mean that, seriously. I’m friends with both the coaches there and one of my best friends just graduated there. It’s actually a very good hockey program, up and coming, and he’s proof of that.
“He’s got a lot of poise for such a young guy. His poise is one of his strengths. Probably the best part of his game is when he holds onto the puck in our end and makes a good outlet pass with it. A lot of young guys will rush the puck and throw it up the wall and he holds onto it and makes great passes all the time.
“Sometimes he gets into trouble because he’s a little too calm and he gets a guy bearing down on him, but he’ll learn and get better. Right now I’m really happy for him.”
Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin, scoreless and -2 defensively while the teams split the first four games, acknowledged the Canucks will be under considerable pressure in front of their home fans at Rogers Arena after losing the last two games at Boston.
“This stage, there’s always pressure,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of games to get to this point, best out of three, two games on home ice. We going to go out there and like the situation and really enjoy it.”
Sedin also said the Canucks played “a better game in Game 4 than we did in Game 3,” though a 4-0 loss after an 8-1 loss doesn’t seem to signal a whole lot of progress.
“We know the power play and special teams have to be better,” he said, referring to the Canucks’ one-for-22 power play and 14-for-17 penalty killing. “We showed before that we can bounce back and be good in both areas, so we’re confident.”
The Canucks have appeared to be in disarray before and have rebounded. After taking a 3-0 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, they lost the next three and gave up 16 goals. They pulled out a 2-1 win in the seventh game of that series to advance.
“We’ve been there,” center Maxim Lapierre said. “We know how tough it is in the Stanley Cup final.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us. It’s 2-2 in the Stanley Cup final going back home for Game 5, so we just have to take advantage of that.”
The Bruins, by the way, opted not to skate or to talk to the media until Friday afternoon. We’ll update you later with their thoughts.
-- Helene Elliott in Vancouver, Canada
Photo: Chris Tanev takes part in a team practice session on June 2. Credit: Jonathan Hayward / Associated Press