If there was ever a doubt about the Vancouver Canucks' strategy against the San Jose Sharks, then look no further than their lineup for Game 2 at Rogers Arena Wednesday.
The Canucks are going to attempt to beat the Sharks with speed, and force their defencemen and big forwards to skate more than they would like during the NHL's Western Conference final.
Vancouver is going to replace winger Tanner Glass with Jeff Tambellini on the fourth line, with big and quick Victor Oreskovich on the opposite flank. Glass has been an every-game regular for the Canucks, with a few exceptions, but the Game 2 lineup might include the eight fastest wingers available to head coach Alain Vigneault.
"I like to bring as much of that element as I can," Tambellini said. "Our goal as a fourth line is to hem them in [the defensive zone]as much as we can...and put the puck in sport where we can use [speed]
"Guys have played a lot," added Tambellini, who is playing in just his second postseason contest, "hopefully we can put a little wear-and-tear on them."
The neutral zone is a key area of the ice. The Canucks believe that if their forwards back-check with gusto, and if their defence maintain good gaps, that they can force the Sharks into turnovers and not allow them to setup in the offensive zone.
Puck possession is a San Jose strength up front, but Vancouver duly believes that the Sharks defence can be forced into turnovers if they have to chase dump-ins under pressure from fast forwards.
"It's still going to be about us," Sharks defenceman Douglas Murray said. "If we have the puck, they're not going to be as fast."
Vigneault acknowledged the importance of speed in his pre-game comments, saying that "when we play north-south, we've been real effective." The Canucks coach said he wanted to be able to roll four lines, and hopes to get the fourth line seven to eight minutes of ice-time.
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan is considering one lineup change on the back end. Jason Demers could return after missing Game 1, and would likely replace Kent Huskins. McLellan said he had yet to speak to his trainers upon meeting with the media.