VANCOUVER – Ryane Clowe vows the Vancouver Canucks won’t get off as easy in Game 2 of the Western Conference final.
The rugged forward says Canucks defencemen can expect to be pounded into the end boards and maybe kiss the glass a few times while retrieving pucks.
That didn’t happen enough in Vancouver’s 3-2 victory in Game 1 and Clowe, a six-foot-two, 220-pound left-winger, intends to do something about when two teams meet again Wednesday.
“We’ve obviously got big forwards and (delivering hits) is definitely a part of my game,” said Clowe, who prides himself on his physical play.
Yet the Fermeuse, N.L., has hands soft enough to generate four goals and 13 points in as many post-season games to tie Joe Thornton for the team scoring lead.
“I try to establish a physical presence whether it’s finishing a hit or protecting the puck,” Clowe said.
“Last game it was just one of those games where it was tough to get sustained time (in the offensive zone), some rhythm or momentum going.
“That comes off a lot of things but a lot of it has to do with wearing them down. That’s a big part of my game and we’ve got a lot of forwards 220-plus.”
Clowe only has to look over to Dany Heatley, his line’s right-winger, who comes in at six-foot-four, 220 pounds.
Rookie centre Logan Couture, who has a team-leading six goals and 12 points, is no slouch either at 6-1, 195 pounds.
“It’s big,” Heatley said of setting a more physical tone. “We obviously weren’t very good the other night. We’ve got to get skating, we’ve got to get physical.
“That’s been our line this whole playoffs so we’ve got to get back to doing that.”
Sharks coach Todd McLellan didn’t mince words following an up-tempo practice to address the physical side of the San Jose’s game after massaging the mental part with a video session Monday.
“Heatley, Clowe and Couture have to be better,” McLellan said. “They weren’t near as effective as we expected them to be. They have to be better. Clowe is a big part of it.”
Heatley says his club has put the series opener in the background and is looking to leave Vancouver with a split.
“It’s a huge game for us,” he said. “I don’t think we want to go back down 0-2.
“Playing with the lead, we let that one slip and we’ve got to play a lot better (Wednesday) night.”
Clowe says the line simply had a bad game.
“You probably won’t see that from us anymore the rest of these playoffs,” he said.
Clowe gave his club an emotional lift when he returned for Game 7 of the second-round series against Detroit after missing Game 6 following a crunching collision with the Red Wings’ Niklas Kronwall.
The Sharks say they didn’t get enough time in the Canucks zone in Sunday’s loss and if they want that to change, they’ll have to win more puck battles.
“That’s just on yourself, that’s not a system thing,” Clowe said. “Then when you get the puck, then you make stuff happen.
“You get them running around a bit and they’re out of position, they’re tired out, you wear down their (defence).”
The Sharks already have some momentum from their top line of Thornton, who got the first goal of the series, Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi, who also has six playoff goals.
Marleau, who’s 6-2, 220, came under severe scrutiny after going seven games, including the first six against Detroit, without scoring.
He answered by firing the series winner against the Red Wings and tipped in a Dan Boyle point shot on the power play to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead Sunday night.
“He’s a streaky scorer, which is a good sign for us right now,” said McLellan. “If he can put a three, four, five-game streak together, it certainly would be to our benefit.”
NOTES: The series marks the first time Douglas Murray, who was born in Bromma, Sweden, has faced Vancouver’s Sedin twins in the NHL playoffs. They first began competing against each other at age 12.