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Canucks notebook

Giving numbers once-over

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 31, 2011

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Three games is a small sample size.

Still, it’s something. That’s why Bruins goalie Tim Thomas’s record against the Canucks was a topic of discussion yesterday in the Vancouver locker room.

Yet even though Thomas has allowed just one goal in those three games against the Canucks, all wins, it’s hardly fair to project those totals over potentially a seven-game series — especially the Stanley Cup finals.

“This is a team we only play once a year, that we don’t see very often,’’ Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “So the one game this season is probably not reflective of how both teams play on a regular basis. It can be, but since we don’t see one another very often, I don’t think you can put too much emphasis on the stats from that one game when you play once a year against a team.’’

That goes, too, for the Sedin twins, who have combined for nine points in 11 career games against the Bruins.

“We play them once or twice a year,’’ Daniel Sedin said. “We can have a bad game every 82 games when we happen to play Boston, or [Thomas] could have a heck of a game. So you can’t really put too much emphasis on that. We know he’s a great goalie, we know that it’s a good team over there. It’s not going to be easy, but when you don’t play them that often, it’s really tough to say.’’

So, how will Vancouver attack Thomas?

“I wish I would know,’’ Alex Burrows said. “His numbers are unbelievable this year. You’ve never seen numbers like that. Obviously he’s a special guy in that he might come across with a two-pad stack or a dive headfirst. A little bit funny when you look at him, but he’s really effective.

“It’s going to be tough to beat him, but at the same time, to beat goalies in this league you’ve got to put some net traffic and keep him in his blue [area] because he likes to play outside of it. You’ve got to make sure you get a lot of rebounds, and once you get those rebounds you’ve got to bury them because he’s not going to quit on them.

“If you do that to any goalie in this league, normally you score goals.’’

Malhotra practices Canucks center Manny Malhotra has been out since he was hit by a puck in the eye March 16, and it was thought he would be out for the season. But Malhotra has been cleared to play, and has been practicing with the team, including yesterday. “I thought today was a good day,’’ Vigneault said. “I thought he looked all right. He’s still day-to-day, and see how he practices tomorrow.’’ Vigneault wouldn’t elaborate on how Malhotra might be used, saying, “If he is in the lineup, we’re going to be using him accordingly. He’s been a good player for our team, and we’ll see how much he can chip in.’’ . . . The Canucks spent much of yesterday’s practice scrimmaging, the second time they had done so since ending their series against the Sharks a week ago. After the scrimmage and an intermission, they worked on the power play and penalty kill for the remainder of the hour-and-15-minute practice. “It was good to kind of get a simulated game in,’’ Ryan Kesler said. “Baseball does it with pitchers. It was good to get back in the swing of things.’’ Vigneault said, “Just make sure that our guys are physically and mentally sharp on the ice instead of doing drills.’’ . . . The power play and penalty kill will be important areas, and Daniel Sedin believes the Canucks might have the edge there over the Bruins. “I think five-on-five we’re pretty equal as a team, both good defenses,’’ he said. “Special teams are going to be huge. If our power play can be better than theirs, it’s going to win us some games.’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com.

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