Canucks, 'Hawks think positive for Game 7

Chicago Blackhawks players and fans celebrate winning against the Vancouver Canucks in overtime...

Chicago Blackhawks players and fans celebrate winning against the Vancouver Canucks in overtime during Game 6 of their NHL Western Conference quarter-final hockey game in Chicago, April 24, 2011. (REUTERS/Jeff Haynes)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:18 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- The Canucks never wanted to play this game.

Never, ever ever, ever wanted to play this game.

They’ve been dreading it for a week.

But now that their Game 7 showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks is here, hey, might as well enjoy the game.

“Absolutely,” winger Tanner Glass, said after the Canucks’ morning skate. “This is a first for me in my career, but I’ve played this game in basements and back yard rinks a few times. I’m sure we all have, and I’m sure we’ve all scored the game winner. You just have to enjoy this, have fun, be relaxed. Play hard.”

Like it or not, ready or not, here it comes - Game 7. All those lingering questions and doubts about a Canucks team that let a 3-0 series get to this point are about to be answered.

“I hope so, and in a positive way,” said Henrik Sedin. “This isn’t something that everybody gets to go through as a hockey player. It’s one game, we can move on and get stronger from it.”

“Guys are staying loose, joking around, just enjoying the moment,” added teammate Kevin Bieksa. “We have a great opportunity ahead of us, a chance to win a series on home ice in front of a great crowd, Game 7, It doesn’t get any better than this.

“As an athlete this is what you want, Game 7, home ice, chance to win the series against the defending Stanley Cup champions.”

Vancouver’s Mikael Samuelsson has been through a few wars with the Detroit Red Wings and says the best strategy is to embrace the moment.

“This is what playoffs are all about,” he said. “You’re probably right, we didn’t want to play a Game 7, but if you look at it the other way, it could be fun. That’s how you have to look at it.”

Alain Vigneault set the stage perfectly: “The Stanley Cup champions have the opportunity to knock off the best team this year in the NHL and we have the opportunity to knock out the Stanley Cup champions. I think it’s going to be a great game.”

In the Hawks’ room, they’re delighted at the opportunity to make hockey history and become just the fourth team to come all the way back from a 3-0 series deficit.

“We’ve been hoping for this for a week and we’ve worked hard to get it,” said Game 6 OT hero Ben Smith. “It’s time to try and take advantage of it. It doesn’t get better than this.”

The Hawks have been relishing the underdog role since they fell behind 3-0, but the nothing to lose angle doesn’t quite hold up you’re 60 minutes away from making history or being it.

“We’d be just as devastated (as Vancouver) if we don’t win,” said Patrick Sharp. “Everything that happened to this point goes into tonight’s game.”

BICKELL OUT FOR GAME 7 - The Hawks, who’ve been playing a key man short the whole series with Dave Bolland missing the first three games and Brent Seabrook out for 4 and 5, will go into Game 7 without big, physical winger Bryan Bickell. He’d been playing with a deep cut on his hand that required surgery.

“He’s a great player, he plays a big role for us,” said Smith. “But we have a deep team, we have some players who can step in.”

LUONGO IN FOR GAME 7 - While Robert Luongo was shaky enough in 7-2 and 5-0 losses in Games 4 and 5 to lose his starting job in Game 6, he’s scheduled to get the call tonight. His teammates have more confidence in him than a lot of outsiders do.

“He’s proven that he’s won the big game before (Olympic final) and he can deal with the pressure,” said Bieksa. “It’s not just his biggest game, it’s everyone’s biggest game. It’s us as a team. We don’t just give him all the pressure. We’re focused on winning this game together.”

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@Sunmedia.ca

TWITTER.com/TYCHKOWSKI


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