History lessons

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:25 PM ET

 For the most part, the Vancouver Canucks are not consulting the big book of cliches while talking about their current predicament.

 Despite being down 3-2 in their series with the Calgary Flames and facing elimination in tonight's Game 6 at the Saddledome (8 p.m., CBC), Canuck players didn't drag out the ever-popular "do-or-die" and "down to our last life" quotes yesterday.

  Instead, they brought out the history book, which shows several examples of the Canucks' playoff resiliency.

 "In last year's first round, we had three elimination games," said Canucks goaltender Alex Auld of a series in which his teammates rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win in seven games over the St. Louis Blues.

 "I got to see the way we responded when our backs were against the wall. It's basically the same group in here and I'm sure that same mindset will be in play."

 At least, that's their hope.

 A loss, of course, and their season is finished -- much more prematurely than nearly everyone expected.

 A win and they force a Game 7 Monday night in Vancouver (8:30 p.m.).

 "I'm hoping (last year's St. Louis series) is going to be a great help for us now that we're facing adversity here when we're being down and being desperate," said Canucks captain Markus Naslund.

 "I'm hoping we should be able to overcome this one, too.

 "It's important to still be upbeat and feel good, even though we're down a game here."

 Down a game and mired in plenty of adversity.

 If the absence of Todd Bertuzzi wasn't enough to contend with, the Canucks bring to Game 6 the baggage of goaltending and goal scoring, or lack thereof.

 Secondary production is almost non-existent, with Brent Sopel, Trevor Linden and Geoff Sanderson held pointless and Martin Rucinsky and the Sedin twins playing inconsistently, although the Canucks insist they generated more scoring chances in Game 5's 2-1 loss Thursday night than in the first four games of the series.

 "The key is going to be us taking a page out of (the Flames') book and getting people in front of the net and trying to get rebounds and screens," said Naslund, who has two powerplay goals during the playoffs.

 "I think it's important to get the ugly goals."

 And third-stringer turned starter Auld will have to find a way to prevent Calgary's ugly goals.

 He became the go-to goalie after Dan Cloutier sprained his ankle in Game 3 and head coach Marc Crawford made the controversial decision to sit Game 4 starter Johan Hedberg.

 It was obvious after Game 5 several Vancouver players were unhappy with the decision, although Crawford continued to stand by his move yesterday.

 "Decisions aren't easy and this is professional sports," Crawford snapped when questioned about his players' reaction to the goaltending move.

 "This isn't minor hockey.

 "Our players are expected to have professional attitudes."

 Auld, who spent the season with the AHL Manitoba Moose, made 18 saves in his first NHL playoff start.

 "I just want to go out, play my game and keep it simple," he said.

 The Canucks have used three goaltenders in the series and managed just two wins.

 The players, at least on the record, deny the game of musical goaltenders is a distraction.

 "It doesn't really matter as a player," said defenceman Mattias Ohlund. "We have confidence in whoever they put in.

 "We just go out and do our best."

 Added Naslund: "It's definitely been a different season.

 "Hopefully, it will make us stronger and I'm hoping we should be able to dig down deep and find a reason to win."

 Hey, that sounds like a cliche.

 Any more, guys?

 "We put ourselves in this position," said Canucks defenceman Ed Jovanovski.

 "Our backs are up against the wall. It's a must-win and we'll respond."

 Yeah, that's more like it.


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