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San Jose Sharks center Kyle Wellwood smiles during a news conference in San Jose, Calif., Friday, May 13, 2011. The Sharks won the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series on Thursday, May 12, by defeating the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in Game 7. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) (Paul Sakuma/AP)
San Jose Sharks center Kyle Wellwood smiles during a news conference in San Jose, Calif., Friday, May 13, 2011. The Sharks won the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series on Thursday, May 12, by defeating the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in Game 7. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) (Paul Sakuma/AP)

ERIC DUHATSCHEK

Kyle Wellwood mends fences Add to ...

In March, Kyle Wellwood ruffled a few feathers by noting his current NHL team, the San Jose Sharks, just might be better equipped to handle a long playoff run than his former squad, the Vancouver Canucks.

Wellwood ventured: "I just feel Vancouver has a few more lessons to learn and I'm glad I'm in San Jose. I just feel [the Sharks]are more mature because they've lost a few more times. They're not so scared of losing. I think come playoff time this team is going to be better."

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Now, a month into the postseason, the Canucks and Sharks, the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in the Western Conference, will go head-to-head, in a battle that will in equal parts measure their respective talents and psyches.

Little did Wellwood know both clubs would need to survive a pair of epic collapses to get to this stage - squandering 3-0 series leads to the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, respectively, before pulling out victories in the deciding games.

Wellwood's tone was far-more conciliatory in the postgame celebration after San Jose's win last Thursday, which set up the third-round meeting with the Canucks, beginning Sunday.

"From watching them, they have a better identity with their team," Wellwood said. "Last year, the players were sort of more like me, where they hang on to pucks and play a little slower and were a little more patient. This year, they all skate real well. They look strong."

As for the sort of reception he might expect as a visitor, Wellwood said he was looking forward to the challenge.

"It's nice to play in Canada. The fans are phenomenal," he said. "I think they're going to be the loudest building - except for San Jose. They're great fans. They know hockey. Their team plays a very fast game, so … we're going to have to find a way to use the size we have on our team to counter their work ethic and speed."

Follow on Twitter: @eduhatschek

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