The Vancouver Canucks will make at least one lineup change for Game 3 of the Western Conference final Friday.
Centre Alexandre Bolduc will make his 2011 postseason debut, replacing Cody Hodgson in the middle of the fourth line against the San Jose Sharks. Bolduc is a left-handed centremen, which balances the middle of Vancouver's ice with two lefties (Henrik Sedin, Bolduc) and two righties (Ryan Kesler, Maxim Lapierre), and is a bigger body than Hodgson at 6-foot-1 and 197 lbs.
But Bolduc, 25, hasn't played an NHL game since March 31. He played 24 games with the Canucks this year, registering four points, and was a part of Manitoba Moose's run in the American Hockey League playoffs, which included comeback victories in two series.
"I'm pretty excited," he said. "You've got to do what you do well."
For Bolduc, that means checking. Head coach Alain Vigneault doesn't use his fourth line too much, but when he does, he wants them pestering the San Jose forwards and not spending time in their own zone.
"[Bolduc]has good size, a real strong skater," Vigneault said. "He has the ability to forecheck."
Vigneault could also make another change on the line, supplanting Jeff Tambellini with Tanner Glass. Tambellini played in a 7-3 victory in Game 2, and the Canucks are 48-9-7 when he is in the lineup this year.
The Sharks are happy to be home, and in the comforts of the HP Pavilion, after being outscored 10-5 in Vancouver and losing the first two games of the Western Conference final. But the pressure is intensifying on the Sharks, and when defenceman Dan Boyle was asked if Game 3 was a must-win he said: "Not by definition, but yes, absolutely. It's pretty evident. It's pretty obvious."
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said he was considering both lineup changes and line shuffling, although he did not get into specifics. Defenceman Jason Demers, who missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury, did not skate with his teammates Friday morning.
San Jose's third line of centre Joe Pavelski between wingers Torrey Mitchell and Kyle Wellwood has been particularly poor. Wellwood said the line had allowed just one even strength goal in the postseason, but acknowledged their offensive struggles.
"Offensively, we haven't been good for two weeks," he said. "Certainly, we haven't been great in the last two weeks, but I think we can get there."
If San Jose has one thing in its favour Friday, it is the passionate and blue-sky fan base that normally fills -- and rocks -- HP Pavilion. Unlike Canadian markets, where fans can often turn on an underperforming home team, the teal-clad supporters are far more forgiving.
"The crowd is very pro-Sharks, they're really happy, and it's very rare that they get down on the team," Wellwood said. "As a team, we seem to get the jump on teams here and play our best games."