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NHL Playoff Picks: Vancouver Canucks vs. San Jose Sharks

The Vancouver Canucks vs. San Jose Sharks series could be over if the Canucks win game five at home.

With a 3-1 lead over San Jose in the Western Conference finals heading into Game 5 Tuesday, Salo knows how important it is for the Canucks to finish off the Sharks fast. It’s something they failed to do against their opponents in Game 5 at home in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

The 36-year-old Sami Salo also knows his team has a chance that doesn’t come around often. He started his career in Ottawa, but was traded to the Canucks long before the Senators made their lone Stanley Cup finals appearance in 2007. The hard-shooting Finnish defender became a punch line after more than 40 career injuries included a snakebite and a pulled butt muscle. He then tore his Achilles’ tendon playing floorball last summer. After undergoing surgery, Salo missed the first 4 1/2 months of the season. Salo was injured again in Game 6 of the opening round after Vancouver failed to finish off Chicago in five games, then had to watch as the Canucks survived overtime in Game 7 to advance. He was back for the final three games of the conference semifinals against Nashville, and again Vancouver failed to end things on home ice against the Predators, forcing another long road trip. Against Nashville, that meant two more long flights, and two fewer days off for Henrik, who labored against the Predators.

He was criticized after combining with brother Daniel Sedin for seven points and a minus-10 rating. But after six days off, the twins already have 15 points against San Jose.

Henrik stressed that wasn’t the only reason to try to finish off a talented Sharks team that was second in the Western Conference during the regular season. As the playoffs become physical, the Canucks have already lost two defensemen to hits by San Jose’s big forwards. One of them, Christian Ehrhoff, took part in an optional practice Monday but refused to speculate on his status, saying only that he was day-to-day after a hit by Jamie McGinn in Game 3. Aaron Rome, who was also knocked out of Game 3 by McGinn, didn’t skate and isn’t expected to play. Asked if he would be playing if it was Game 7, Ehrhoff said, “It is kind of. … In the playoffs, every game is like a Game 7.”

The Canucks are more focused than ever and realize that if they close out the Sharks now they will get some rest before playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. They respond with a big victory.

Hockey Picks: Vancouver Canucks

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