VANCOUVER - All signs point to Aaron Rome taking on a larger role in the second game of the Stanley Cup final.
Although coach Alain Vigneault said Dan Hamhuis (leg) was "day-to-day" and told the media not to put any stock in the line combinations or defence pairings the Vancouver Canucks used Friday during their skate at the University of British Columbia, it's looks like Rome will be paired with Kevin Bieksa for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final against the Boston Bruins.
That would mean more minutes for Rome and a large dose of the Bruins' top trio of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.
"Obviously, you want to play the most minutes you can. It's exciting," said Rome, a 27-year-old who is in his second season with the Canucks. "Injuries are part of the game, it gives opportunities to other guys. It's tough to see a guy like Dan go down, he's such a good player, a good person and a big part of our team. But we've done a good job of filling those holes all year.
"We have so many interchangeable parts on this team. Guys step in and it's like we don't miss a beat. Our guys have a lot of confidence in the six to eight D we have playing on a regular basis and even some of the callups that have been playing with us this year."
Rome hails from the tiny farming community of Nesbitt, Man., and he's proud of his small-town roots.
"My parents have a 1,000-acre grain farm, but my dad has rented it out for the last eight to 10 years," said Rome, who played minor hockey in Souris and still spends his summers in Brandon. "They still live on the farm."
Over the years, Rome has played for a pretend Stanley Cup on the outdoor rinks but actually living his childhood dream has been everything he imagined -- and then some.
"It's crazy. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself," Rome said. "You can't believe that you're here. There were tons of nerves, but I didn't have as many as I thought I would. It was like Christmas before the first game, because we had to wait -- you were counting down the sleeps to the first game.
"It kind of took you back to your childhood. I was focused on the first shift, getting involved and then letting my instincts take care of the rest."
It has been an up-and-down season for Rome, who started off as the odd-man out, worked his way into the rotation and held down a variety of roles -- even during these playoffs.
"Getting a chance to play more as the season progressed has been awesome," he said. "At the start of the playoffs, I played one game against Chicago at forward, and then playing right off the bat in the second series against Nashville and working my way in, it has been a lot of fun. It helps you savour it more and enjoy it more because you worked a little bit harder to get to this position."
To be blunt, Rome has earned the additional ice time.
"He has been one of our most consistent Ds as far as reads, moving the pucks, (making) high percentage plays within his limits and he's a good physical presence out there," Vigneault said. "When the opportunity is there to play the man, he does and we're really happy with how he has played."
Bieksa and Rome were paired together earlier this season when Hamhuis was out with a concussion.
"There will be no problem if that's the case," Bieksa said. "They are different players, obviously. Aaron is pretty predictable with what he's going to do out there. Very steady, good defensively and he's good when he has to be. We'll talk a lot, communicate and we should be fine."
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Birthplace: Nesbitt, Man.
Weight: 218 pounds
Chosen by Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round (104th overall) of the 2002 entry draft
Career NHL stats: 131GP, 2G, 10A, 12P, 110PIM
2010-11 stats: 56GP, 1G, 4A, 5P, 53 PIM
2011 Stanley Cup playoffs: 12GP, 1G, 0A, 1P, 18 PIM