VANCOUVER -- Defenseman Christopher Tanev and forward Alexandre Bolduc have been valuable depth players for the Vancouver Canucks in these playoffs; however, it wasn't too long ago both players were several steps away from an NHL game.
Bolduc, who has played center and right wing on the team's fourth line in Games 3 and 4, had an injury-plagued season after making the Canucks' opening-day roster out of training camp.
On Oct. 9, during the team's season opener, the Montreal native suffered a high-ankle sprain and didn't return to game action till Dec. 3 with Vancouver's AHL affiliate in Manitoba.
On Jan. 14, during a Canucks win in Washington, Bolduc suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out until mid-February, when he was back in the AHL.
"It was frustrating, but you can't let that stuff get to you," said Bolduc, who dressed in 50 games between his time in Vancouver and Manitoba. "It's frustrating maybe for a day or two, but then when you look at the big picture, it could be a lot worse.
"I took it day-by-day and I've learned how to deal with that stuff. It's part of hockey and it's part of business."
Bolduc dressed in 14 Calder Cup Playoff games, where he scored 4 goals before Vancouver called him up, along with four others, to serve as extra players.
During Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Bolduc elected to take in the game like every other paying customer in Vancouver, using the main gates to enter Rogers Arena and then sitting in the lower bowl among the 18,860 in attendance for the Canucks' 3-2 win.
"On the concourse there I got a few, 'How you doing?' -- stuff like that, and it's nice," Bolduc said. "It brought me back to the days when I was watching the Canadiens (in Montreal) and stuff, so it was funny. I only did that the first game, the second game I watched from the dressing room."
By Game 3 Bolduc was in the lineup, centering the Canucks' fourth line. He received word Thursday that he'd be travelling with the Canucks to San Jose for Games 3 and 4, and Game 3 marked his first career NHL playoff game.
"It was something I was really hoping to get in to, I really wanted to play a game more than anything and it's something that you hope for," he said. "I came back, I worked hard and it always pays off in the end. It might take a while, but I worked hard on and off the ice so it always ends up paying off."
For Tanev, a native of Toronto, it's been a very different route to the NHL playoffs.
The 21-year-old was manning the blue line for the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers last April at the NCAA Division I Frozen Four.
It was during RIT's playoff run that Canucks Director of Player Development Dave Gagner saw Tanev, who had played with his son Sam during their minor hockey days in Ontario.
The Canucks signed Tanev on May 31, 2010, hoping he'd add defensive depth to the organization.
As a result of injuries to Vancouver's blue line, however, Tanev dressed in 29 games with the Canucks where he had 1 assist and an even rating. He added a goal and 2 assists during the Moose's playoff run before joining Bolduc as one of the Canucks' "black aces."
"If you told me at this time last year (I'd be playing in the NHL playoffs), I definitely wouldn't have believed you, but I'm just trying to take everything in stride and trying to learn from all these guys," Tanev said Monday after the team's optional skate. "They're veterans and they've been around the game for a long time, so I'm just trying to pick up things here and there to help my game."
When Christian Ehrhoff went down with an upper-body injury in Game 3 Friday, a call went to Tanev, who was in Vancouver, to join the team in San Jose. After a sleepless night, Tanev got on a flight early Saturday morning bound for the Bay Area and dressed in his first NHL playoff game Sunday afternoon.
"I didn't really have time to think about the game. I didn't know I was playing until Sunday," he said. "I got to the rink and they told me to be ready Saturday in case I was playing, and I got (to the rink Sunday) and saw my number in the lineup."
Tanev played 16 shifts totaling 9:13 and had a blocked shot in the Canucks' 4-2 win.
"I thought I played pretty well -- played almost 10 minutes. I thought I did pretty well when I was out there and just trying to help the team out," he said. "It's definitely been a journey -- tons of fun, though. I'm just looking forward to being around the guys for a couple more weeks."