VANCOUVER -- It appears Christopher Tanev will play his first game of the Stanley Cup Final in Game 5 at Rogers Arena (5 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). The rookie would replace Keith Ballard in the defensive pairings for the Canucks.
Tanev was off the ice this morning significantly earlier than Ballard, who stayed on for extra ice. Ballard stayed out with Aaron Rome (suspended), Cory Schneider and Jeff Tambellini.
"It would mean a lot," said Tanev, who didn't confirm his spot tonight. "You grow up watching (the Stanley Cup Final) your whole life and it would be great to get in there, but we'll see what happens. I've just got to be ready to play. If I'm in there, I just got to be ready to play my game, move the puck quick, get the puck to the twins, Kes, those type of players and have fun out there."
The entire team took the morning skate, but Alain Vigneault chose to keep his cards close to his vest and did not have his players do line rushes. As a result, who pairs with Tanev is anyone's guess. Adding to the mystery, Tanev tends to pair with Ballard when both are dressed, including Games 4 and 5 against San Jose in the Western Conference final.
After sitting out of the Canucks lineup for two weeks, Ballard dressed in Game 4 on Wednesday night in Boston. The veteran endured a game to forget, going minus-2 in 15:48 of ice time.
Tanev last played in those Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference Final, averaging just under 15 minutes of ice time, and an even rating.
The 21-year-old Toronto native is one year removed from playing NCAA Division 1 at the Rochester Institute of Technology, but his abilities have not gone unnoticed by his teammates.
"He's had a good year for us, he came kind of out of nowhere, came from a great program at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) -- I mean that seriously," said Kevin Bieksa, of the little known program in Monroe County. "It's an up and coming program, and (Tanev) is proof of that -- he's got a lot of poise for such a young guy.
"Probably the best part of his game is when he holds onto the puck in our end and makes a good outlet pass. A lot of young guys will rush the puck and throw it up the wall -- he holds on to it and makes great passes all the time."
The free agent signing played in 29 regular season games with Vancouver this season, picking up an assist while averaging 13:47 of ice time.