Lots of sitting for Canucks' checkout line

The Canucks take part in practice at the University of British Columbia's Father Bauer rink in...

The Canucks take part in practice at the University of British Columbia's Father Bauer rink in Vancouver, B.C., June 3, 2011. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI Agency)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:41 PM ET

VANCOUVER - End of the bench or "grocery stick?"

It's the decision seldom-used fourth-liners, or guys who have been benched, have to make.

It's a decision the fourth-liners for the Vancouver Canucks had to make in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final and, given the benefits of the schedule, likely will have to make again for Game 2.

Grocery stick applies to the guy who settles in to that spot on the bench right between the defencemen and the forwards. The players come and go on either side of the guy and he doesn't have to move. He divides the two groups, like a grocery stick on the conveyor belt at the supermarket. It's a taunt some players use.

"I've heard it here and there. We try not to get too familiar with it," Canucks forward Jeff Tambellini said with a laugh.

He played just four shifts in Game 1.

"It is funny," Tambellini said. "I heard that first from one of our tough guys a couple of years back. He didn't play a shift. Had him on the bench. He didn't touch the ice. He sat right in the middle the whole game. I like to move around, get up, get going. Some guys just plant themselves."

Tambellini, Andre Bolduc (three shifts, one minute 39 seconds) and Victor Oreskovich (four shifts, 1:54) hardly played in Game 1. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, benefiting from eight days off from the end of the Western Conference final to the Cup final, knew his big horses would be fresh and opted to play them a lot. Forward Daniel Sedin played 23:01, up almost three minutes over his playoff average. Centre Ryan Kesler was at 24:23, up more than a minute from his playoff average of 23:15.

That meant the fourth line sat. With two days off between Games 1 and 2, it's likely Vigneault will have the luxury of going with three lines again in Game 2, which is a big advantage when you have high-end talent at your disposal like he does.

The Boston Bruins have been at their best when they have had the chance to play a lot of 5-on-5 and roll four lines, so the schedule would appear to be a bigger benefit for the Canucks. The best-of-seven final will settle into the every-second-day mode for Games 3 and 4 in Boston Monday and Wednesday.

"Our fourth line hadn't played very much in the round against San Jose and in the first game," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Friday.

"In the first game, I think it's mostly (because) we had been off for eight days. I knew our guys were real fresh. I just played them. The fact that we had three other days in between that first game (and Game 2) enabled me to play them a lot.

"I think as we move forward here, we're probably going to play a little bit more four lines, maybe not to the extreme we did during the regular season, but I would like to get that line out there a little bit more."

Boston coach Claude Julien used all 18 of his skaters in Game 1. Daniel Paille was the least used with nine shifts and 5:15 of ice time. Next was rookie Tyler Seguin with 11 shifts and 6:21.

The longer the series goes, being able to use fourth lines becomes a bigger advantage. When the prospect of overtime loomed in Game 1, Julien even started working some of his depth guys into the rotation so his bigger guns could be fresh.

The Bruins would like to see the likes of the Sedins continue to be used a lot, all the better to have Bruins defencemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg wear them down.

In the meantime, the Canucks dusters will bide their time and pick their spots.

As for Bolduc, he is an end-of-the-bench guy.

"It's the Stanley Cup final, so as long as you get a to be a part of it, it's a pretty special experience," Bolduc said. "We're just happy to contribute, one minute, two minutes. As long as we're dressed, and we're playing, we're happy no matter what they need from us.

"I don't mind being a grocery stick on the best team in the league."

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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