Friday, October 31, 2008

Canucks Set For Halloween Clash in Anaheim

The Canucks will wrap up the month of October with their first back-to-back game scenario of the season as tonight they're in Anaheim to take on the Ducks.

Vancouver (5-5-0) is coming off their second shut-out performance of the year last night as they blanked the L.A. Kings 4-0 at the Staples Center. Roberto Luongo will likely get the start in this game, which will be his 500th career game in the NHL. He's been sharp in his last handful of starts, now sporting a save percentage of 91.1%.

The Canucks will likely go with the same line-up against the Ducks as they did against the Kings. Mike Brown will factor into the action for a second straight night to play alongside Ryan Johnson and Darcy Hordichuk.

As for the Ducks (6-5-0), they'll make one minor change to their line-up from their 5-4 overtime win Wednesday at home against the Detroit Red Wings. Former Canucks forward Brad May suffered a leg injury against the Wings and will be sidelined for a couple of weeks. Taking his spot will be tough guy George Parros, who's chipped in with a couple of goals already this season.

Anaheim is the hottest team in the league, having won five straight. Teemu Selanne is coming off his 21st career hat-trick in the win over Detroit while Ryan Getzlaf had a franchise-high five assists in that game. The Ducks are the league's most penalized team heading into the weekend, which is a good indicator that this game likely will come down to special teams.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams heading into the action at the Honda Center:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Raymond
Pyatt - Wellwood - Bernier
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Johnson - Brown

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Edler
Salo - O'Brien



Chris Kunitz - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Brendan Morrison - Todd Marchant - Teemu Selanne
Travis Moen - Samuel Pahlsson - Rob Niedermayer
George Parros - Ryan Carter - Brian Sutherby

Francois Beauchemin - Scott Niedermayer
Bret Hedican - Chris Pronger
Kent Huskins - Steve Montador

J.S. Giguere
Jonas Hiller

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kings Blanked @ Home By Canucks Thursday

Solid special teams and great goaltending helped the Vancouver Canucks get back to the 500-mark Thursday night as they posted a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center.

Vancouver had pretty good control of this game after the opening 20 minutes. The Canucks were able to convert on one of their opening three power plays in the first six minutes of the contest. Daniel Sedin was able to jab in a loose rebound in the crease that had been given up by goalie Jason LaBarbera. Henrik Sedin and Kevin Bieksa get credit for the other assists on Daniel's 3rd of the season at 5:09.

For about a good 8-10 minute stretch the Kings dominated play and were a bit unlucky to have not scored. While on the man advantage, Peter Harrold had a shot through traffic hit the post. Then after being awarded a penalty shot, Alexander Frolov failed to beat netminder Roberto Luongo.

With just over a minute remaining in the frame, the Canucks built on their lead and it came as the two teams skated 4-on-4. Mason Raymond was able to dance around Kings rookie forward Oscar Moller and wound up snapping a shot past LaBarbera. Alexander Edler and Jannik Hansen helped Raymond tally his 4th of the season at 18:53.

Luongo did his part to keep the Canucks in the lead in the middle stanza as Vancouver was short-handed three times in the period. His best stop came off of Dustin Brown in close quarters just past the midway point of the frame.

Shortly after, the Canucks were able to work a power play of their own and wasted little time converting. Good work by the Sedins to corral the puck from behind the net into the slot. Eventually left all alone beside the net was Kyle Wellwood, who had little trouble snapping home his 3rd power play goal of the campaign at 12:20.

Steve Bernier was a bit unlucky not to have given the Canucks a four-goal lead heading into the intermission break but his shot that beat LaBarbera didn't beat the clock in time before the final buzzer went.

Vancouver eventually made it a 4-0 contest in the third period. Sami Salo moved the puck to the left point for Willie Mitchell who took a shot towards the net. The puck would be deflected out of the air by the stick of Taylor Pyatt and it wound up bouncing underneath LaBarbera. Pyatt's first goal of the season came at 6:13.

Luongo had to do his part down the stretch to preserve his shut-out. He best save came with Moller free at the top of the crease on the power play as he robbed the former Chilliwack Bruins sniper of a sure goal in close.

The Canucks wound up getting out-shot 28-18 on the night in a game which saw Vancouver go 2-for-6 on the power play and a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.

Edler and Bieksa were far and away the most productive defensemen in this game for the Canucks. Each player was one the ice for three of the four goals and the two combined for 49:32 of ice time.

The new-look #1 power play unit wasn't too shabby for the Canucks in this game. The line of Wellwood working along-side the Sedins caused some fits for the Kings penalty killers and could have easily scored more than just twice with the extra skater.

Luongo as mentioned off the top was very strong to earn his second clean-sheet of the year. In his last three starts, he's allowed three goals on 82 shots.

Vancouver (5-5-0) will wrap up their first back-to-back games stretch of the year Friday night with a Halloween match-up against the Ducks in Anaheim. The Ducks (6-5) are the NHL's hottest team right now, having won their last five straight. They're also the most penalized team in the league, having been short-handed an average of six times per game this season. Their most recent effort was a 5-4 win in overtime at home Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings. The top guns of the Ducks were rolling that night as Teemu Selanne had a hat-trick (all on the power play) while Ryan Getzlaf chipped in with a franchise-record five assists.

Game time between the Canucks and the Ducks is 7:00pm PST.

Canucks Shuffle Combos For Kings

A little bit of line juggling will take place Thursday night for the Vancouver Canucks as they travel to the Staples Center for the first time this season to play the Los Angeles Kings.

The Canucks, coming off the frustrating 1-0 loss to the visiting Boston Bruins on Tuesday night, will see sophomore forward Mason Raymond skate on the right wing alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Head Coach Alain Vigneault hopes that Raymond, who had a five-game point scoring streak snapped against the Bruins (3g,3a), can help lift the Sedin's point production. During his post-practice media availability on Wednesday in Vancouver, Vigneault likened the play of the twins lately to that of the stock market. He went as far as to say they were "plummeting". However, like the stock market, things are bound to take a turn for the better and perhaps they will for #22 and #33 with the addition of #21.

With Raymond joining the twins, Steve Bernier now finds himself working with Taylor Pyatt and Kyle Wellwood. The other two lines will likely stay the same as Ryan Kesler continues to play well between Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen. Meantime, Ryan Johnson skated between Darcy Hordichuk and Jason Krog. However I wouldn't be too surprised to see Mike Brown factor into the Canucks roster in L.A., likely taking the spot of Krog.

As for the Kings, they've had a few days rest since being on the ice last Monday. Los Angeles blew a third period lead against the defending Stanley Cup champs and wound up falling 4-3 in a shoot-out against the visiting Detroit Red Wings.

Their bench boss Terry Murray will do some tinkering with his line combonations as well in preparation for their first match-up against the Canucks. Patrick O'Sullivan will move up to play on the first line with the club's top two scorers in Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Veteran Kyle Calder will take O'Sullivan's spot on a line with Jarret Stoll and Oscar Moller.

Here are the expected line combos and defensive pairings for tonight's game in Los Angeles.


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Raymond
Pyatt - Wellwood - Bernier
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Johnson - Brown/Krog

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Edler
Salo - O'Brien



Patrick O'Sullivan - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Kyle Calder - Jarret Stoll - Oscar Moller
Alexander Frolov - Michal Handzus - Wayne Simmonds
Raitis Ivanans - Derek Armstrong - Matt Moulson

Sean O'Donnell - Drew Doughty
Kyle Quincey - Matt Greene
Denis Gauthier - Peter Harrold

Jason LaBarbera
Erik Ersberg

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Missed Chances Costly Against Bruins

For the first time all season, the Canucks were held off the score board. But it certainly wasn't for lack of chances as Tuesday night, Vancouver wound up being blanked 1-0 by the visiting Boston Bruins.

The game wasn't by any means a hi-lite reel performance from a fan's perspective. It took a while to get the entertainment level up at GM Place as the visitors from Beantown weren't afraid to crawl into somewhat of a defensive shell from their own side of the red line.

The only goal of the night came just past the midway point of the first period and it occured just as a penalty was about to be assessed to the Canucks. A shot from close range would be knocked down in front of the crease of Roberto Luongo. He was able to poke-check the disc into the slot but it came right to an untouched Michael Ryder. He made no mistake snapping it home for his 2nd of the season. Marco Sturm and Marc Savard chip in with the assists at 10:16.

Before the period was out, Daniel Sedin had a clear-cut breakaway from his own blue line after he picked off a pass from Zdeno Chara. However Sedin's chance would be denied by Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, the first of many key saves he made to help his team preserve the lead.

There were not many great chances for either club in the middle stanza. The best did come to the Canucks as on a power play, Jason Krog failed to convert with wide open net staring him in the face.

Seven minutes into the third period, Vancouver had another power play opportunity. This time Daniel found his brother Henrik alone in the right face off circle, but his one-timer would be foiled by Thomas who did a great job to slide from one side of the crease to the other to make the save.

A scary moment did come in the Canucks zone with roughly nine minutes remaining in regulation. Milan Lucic, who led all skaters in this game in hits (8) let go a bullet of a drive down the left wing that wound up pinging off the mask of Luongo. Although he needed a bit of treatment, he would be alright and stayed in the game.

Eventually Luongo would be pulled to the bench for the extra attacker, but Vancouver failed to get one by Thomas, who skated away with his second straight 1-0 shut-out in as many nights.

The Canucks did out-shot Boston 31-30 in Vancouver's first home ice loss of the campaign. Neither team converted on the power play as the Canucks went 0-for-3 while Boston went 0-for-2.

Now with a record of 4-5-0, the Canucks prepare to play three games over a span of four nights. Their first two tests will be in California as Thursday they take on the Los Angeles Kings before battling the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

Giants/Bruins Game Day

For the first time in three seasons, the Canucks will play host to the Boston Bruins at General Motors Place. The Canucks (4-4-0) are coming off a big offensive outburst at home last Saturday night in a 6-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. The Bruins (4-2-3) come to the west coast after blanking the Oilers last night 1-0 in overtime.

Forwards Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler have five-game point-scoring streaks on the line going into tonight's action. Raymond, fresh off a two-goal effort against the Oilers, has three goals and three assists. Kesler, who chipped in a pair of assists in that victory, has collected two goals and four assists in that same span.

The game also marks the return to Vancouver for local product Milan Lucic. The MVP of the Memorial Cup Champion Vancouver Giants in 2007 last played a game in Vancouver in September of that year. He captained Canada's World Jr. Team in the Canada Russia Super Series that off-season. Following the morning skate at GM Place today, Milan was presented with a new Memorial Cup ring from Michelle Toigo, the wife of Giants Majority Owner Ron Toigo. Lucic's original ring was stolen from his family home in Vancouver last summer.

Here are the expected line-ups for both clubs:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Bernier
Raymond - Wellwood - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Johnson - Krog

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Edler
Salo - O'Brien


Scratches: Rypien, Demitra, Brown, Nycholat, Davison


Milan Lucic - Marc Savard - Phil Kessel
Marco Sturm - Patric Bergeron - Michael Ryder
P.J. Axelsson - David Krejci - Blake Wheeler
Pettero Nokelainen - Stephane Yelle - Shawn Thorton

Zdeno Chara - Aaron Ward
Andrew Ference - Dennis Wideman
Mark Stuart - Shane Hnidy

Tim Thomas
Manny Fernandez

Scratches: Chuck Kobasew, Matt Hunwick, Vladimir Sobotka

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rypien Out Again/Salo Set To Return

Rick Rypien has to wonder what he's done to deserve so many injuries the past few years. The latest one comes as he attempted to return to the Canucks line-up after suffering a viral infection.

Following Monday's practice at GM Place, head coach Alain Vigneault confirmed that Rypien suffered a sports hernia injury during workouts over the past few days. This will indeed require surgery and he'll be out of the Vancouver line-up indefinitely. Rypien, who had scored in each of his first two games this season, has been riddled by injuries since becoming a member of the organization a couple of years ago.

One player that is likely to return to action for Vancouver on Tuesday night is Sami Salo. The veteran blue-liner suffered a groin strain in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks Oct. 19 and hasn't played since. After practice, Salo indicated that he felt healthy enough to play but said it would be up to the coaches and training staff to decide on whether he would be good to go on game day against the Boston Bruins.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

PP Paces Canucks Against Oilers

Heading into Saturday night's game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Vancouver Canucks had scored just three goals on 33 power play chances. However, eveything they touched turned to gold when they had the man advantage against their Northwest Division rivals as they skated away with a 6-3 win at General Motors Place.

Mason Raymond led the attack for the home team, scoring twice on the power play. He now has two goals and three assists in five straight games. Jannik Hansen also netted a pair of goals for Vancouver, his first multiple-goal game of his rookie season.

Recent call-ups Kyle Wellwood and Jason Krog rounded out the scoring for Vancouver as both scored with the man advantage. Wellwood's goal, which proved to be the game winner, came early on in the third period to break a 3-3 tie. He has two goals and an assist since being re-called from the AHL. Krog, who appeared in his 200th NHL game, scored his first as a Canuck as he skated on the power play with Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa each chipped in a pair of assists in the victory. Kelser leads the Canucks in scoring (3g,6a) and has points in five straight (2g,4a). Bieksa wound up leading all Vancouver players in ice time (24:17) on route to collecting three points in his last two games.

Roberto Luongo did his part to help the team to snap out of a three-game losing skid. Rock solid in the first and third periods, Luongo stopped 25 of 28 Oilers shots. The biggest came with a little more than two minutes to go in the middle frame as he made a great glove-handed stop on a penalty shot attempt by Sam Gagner.

As you can well imagine, this was a pretty spirited affair between the two clubs. Rob Davison, appearing in just his 2nd game of the season, was involved in an early scrap with Oilers tough guy Steve MacIntyre. Mattias Ohlund, who took exception to a late and high attempted elbow/forearm from Erik Cole, proceeded to beat up the Edmonton forward. To add insult to injury for Cole was the fact his tie-down on his jersey popped loose, warranting an automatic game misconduct.

Vancouver wound up out-shooting Edmonton 30-28. The Canucks were 4-for-6 on the power play while the Oilers went 0-for-4.

Now with an overall record of 4-4-0, the Canucks will have a few days off for practice before entertaining the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. The Bruins feature local boy and former Memorial Cup winner with the Vancouver Giants Milan Lucic, who is coming off a hat-trick performance Saturday against the Atlanta Thrashers. It will be the one and only meeting of the season between the Canucks and Bruins.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Canucks Back At Home To Face Oilers

For the first time since opening night, the Vancouver Canucks are set to play at General Motors Place as tonight they renew their Northwest Division rivalry with the Edmonton Oilers.

The Canucks (3-4) have not been in game action since last Tuesday when they wrapped up a six-game road trip in Columbus, Ohio. That night, the Canucks fell 4-2 to the hometown Blue Jackets to conclude their trip at 2-4-0.

Special teams has been the focus the past few days of practice for the Canucks. Vancouver is 29th in the NHL on the power play (3-for-33) while sitting 26th on the penalty kill (9-in-36). And while they can't practice it on off days, their start will be a major focus point tonight. Vancouver is 0-3-0 this season when the opposition scores first.

The only notable changes to Vancouver's line-up compared to the Columbus game will see the return of Darcy Hordichuk up front and the edition of Rob Davison on defence. Both players will bring a much-needed physical presence to the home club against an Edmonton squad that's never afraid to rough it up when playing in Vancouver.

The Oilers (4-2-0) are tinkering with their line-up after dropping their last two straight games. After falling 4-1 to the Avalanche in Colorado on Thursday, Oilers bench boss Craig MacTavish has split up his top two lines. The line of Shawn Horcoff centering Ales Hemsky and Erik Cole won't play together against Vancouver. Horcoff, who had the Oilers lone goal against the Hawks, will be between Hemsky and Robert Nilsson while Cole will play along-side Marc Pouliot and Ethan Moreau. Despite being a club that got off to a 4-0-0 start, the Oilers are the second lowest scoring team in the NHL.

Here are the expected line-ups to start tonight's game at GM Place.

D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Bernier
Raymond - Wellwood - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Johnson - Krog

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Edler
O'Brien - Davison


Scratches: Salo, Rypien, Demitra, Brown, Nycholat


Robert Nilsson - Shawn Horcoff - Ales Hemsky
Dustin Penner - Andrew Cogliano - Sam Gagner
Ethan Moreau - Marc Pouliot - Erik Cole
Steve MacIntyre - Kyle Brodziak - Zach Stortini

Denis Grebeshkov - Steve Staios
Jason Strudwick - Sheldon Souray
Lubomir Visnovsky - Tom Gilbert

Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson

Scratches: Ladislav Smid, Fernando Pisani, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Canucks Back On The Ice/Injury Update

The Canucks were back together at GM Place Thursday for the first time since returning home for their six-game road trip. Nearly half of the practice session was focused on special teams. It really shouldn't come as a big surprise to hear that, as the club currently sits 29th overall in the NHL on the power play and 26th on the penalty kill.

Here were the power play and penalty killing units that skated together during practice:

PP #1

D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Krog
Raymond - Ohlund

PP #2

Wellwood - Kesler - Bernier
Bieksa - Edler

PK #1

Pyatt - Johnson
Nycholat - Davison

PK #2

Burrows - Hansen
O'Brien - Mitchell

Following practice, coach Alain Vigneault met with the media to answer questions from reporters who hadn't seen the club in person since the season opener October 9. The biggest news came in the way of injury updates, which are as follows:

Pavol Demitra: fractured cartilage in his 8th rib. This will likely see #38 out of the line-up for the next month.

Sami Salo: groin pull. Listed as day-to-day. Skated on his own before practice this morning.

Rick Rypien: viral infection. Listed as day-to-day. Has not been around the team since leaving the club last Sunday in Chicago.

Darcy Hordichuk did skate today after suffering a knee injury against the Blackhawks. He'll likely be good to go when the Canucks are back in action Saturday at home against the Edmonton Oilers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Canucks have arrived home one game below the 500-mark after a game where they legitimately deserved a better fate. Tuesday night, Vancouver spotted the Blue Jackets a 2-0 lead in the first period and wound up dropping a 4-2 decision to Columbus at the Nationwide Arena. However, their play in the third period certainly warranted them to gain a point to finish off a road trip where they wound up going 2-4-0.

The start could not have been worse for Vancouver in this game. Jason Chimera opened the scoring for the home team just two and half minutes into the contest. After taking a pass up the left wing from Derrick Brassard, Chimera wound up driving a bullet of a slap shot over the far shoulder of Roberto Luongo and underneath the crossbar. Jakub Voracek gets the other assist on Chimera’s 3rd of the year at 2:32.

On the first Blue Jackets power play, the home team was able to build on their lead. Rick Nash fed a beautiful pass from the right face off circle to the slot for an untouched Kristian Huselius. He made no mistake re-directing the pass behind Luongo. Voracek collects his 2nd point of the period on the 3rd of the year for the former Flames forward at 6:22.

Before the period was out, the Canucks were able to get on the score board and it came on their first power play. Mason Raymond cut across the Columbus blue line down the right side. His cross-zone pass found Ryan Kesler in the left face off circle. He wound up immediately snapping a pass across the zone for a wide open Kyle Wellwood. He wasted little time burying it behind a helpless Pascal Leclaire. For Wellwood, who had just been called up that afternoon off the waiver wire, it was his first goal in a Vancouver uniform. He also became the first Canucks forward to net a power play goal this season and it came at 7:55.

The score stayed 2-1 until late in the 2nd period. Luongo gave up a rebound off a shot from the corner boards into the slot. There left all alone was Derek Dorsett. He wound up beating the Canucks netminder to the back-hand for his first NHL goal. Manny Malhotra and Mike Commodore collect the helpers on what proved to be the game winning goal at 14:23.

For much of the third period, the ice was greatly tilted in favour of Vancouver. It all started with some good fore-checking by Taylor Pyatt, who wound up forcing the puck behind the net to Wellwood. After a nifty pass to the top of the crease, he wound up seeing Kevin Bieksa drill it home past Leclaire. Bieksa tallied his 1st of the year at 5:01.

The Canucks really started to pour on the pressure for the next 12 minutes. The line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin alongside Steve Bernier was the most dangerous line for the visitors, as they had some glorious chances to tie the game up. However Leclaire was there to shut the door and keep his team in the lead. His biggest stops came off of Bernier with a point-blank chance in the slot and Henrik at the right side of the crease.

Luongo would eventually be pulled to the bench for the extra attacker but the Canucks were not able to get a great chance for a shot on net. Eventually Nash broke free on a partial breakaway and wound up being hauled down by Alexander Edler. Having that happen with an empty net warrants an automatic goal and that turned out to be the 5th of the year for Nash at 19:42.

Final shots on goal, despite the strong push in the third period by Vancouver, did favour the home side by a margin of 32-25. Both clubs finished the night going 1-for-4 on the power play.

Now with an overall record of 3-4-0, the Canucks have returned home for a well-deserved day off for rest. They’ll get back to practice at General Motors Place on Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cancuks Call Up Forwards/Wrap Trip In Columbus

The Canucks will be bringing in a pair of forwards for tonight's game against the Blue Jackets in Columbus. However, they won't be the two skaters they had anticipated calling up from their American League affiliate.

Matt Pettinger wound up being claimed off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Shouldn't come as a big surprise that the Bolts claimed the Victoria, B.C. native for half his salary. Tampa's owner Len Barrie of course has a connection with Pettinger, seeing as they are connected to the Bear Mountain golf and real estate properties on Vancouver Island.

Kyle Wellwood has cleared re-callable waivers and will join the Canucks along with veteran forward Jason Krog from the Manitoba Moose. Krog did not need to go through re-callable waivers. Krog had one goal and four assists in four games with the Moose to start the AHL season.

The Canucks are 3-3-0 as they get set to put the finishing touches on their current six-game road trip. The Blue Jackets are 2-3-0 to start the season and are playing just their second home game of the year. Both clubs have one win in their last four outtings.

Here's how the lines are shaping up for both the Canucks and Blue Jackets for tonight's game at Nationwide Arena:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Bernier
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Raymond - Wellwood - Pyatt
Krog - Johnson - Brown

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Edler
Nycholat - O'Brien


Blue Jackets:

Rick Nash - R.J. Umberger - Kristian Huselius
Jason Chimera - Derick Brassard - Jakub Voracek
Nikita Filatov - Jiri Novotny - Andrew Murray
Alexandre Picard - Manny Malhotra - Derek Dorsett

Fedor Tyutin - Rostislav Klesa
Jan Hejda - Mike Commodore
Marc Methot - Christian Backman

Pascal Leclaire
Fredrik Norrena

Monday, October 20, 2008

M*A*S*H Unit Skates In Columbus

The Canucks skated today at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus as they prepare for the last game of their current six-game trip against the hometown Blue Jackets Tuesday evening.

There are a handful of injury updates following Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago:

Sami Salo: suffered a groin injury during warm-up prior to the Chicago game. Took two shifts in the first period and did not feel healthy enough to go the distance. Being listed as day-to-day.

Darcy Hordichuk: mild MCL which occured in an accidental collision with linemate Ryan Johnson in the first period. Should be healthy within 1-2 weeks.

Rick Rypien: viral infection. Taking no chances on how serious or contagious it might be, the club did send him home to Vancouver as he's listed as day-to-day.

Pavol Demitra: rib contusion and listed as indefinite. He is not feeling comfortable at all after straining it during a shot late in the 2nd period.

Call-ups to the team from the Manitoba Moose include forwards Matt Pettinger and Kyle Wellwood. Assuming they clear re-callable waivers, they should be in the line-up at the Nationwide Arena.

There's no question the Canucks special teams has been the biggest question mark surrounding the team as they've lost three of their last four games. The power play has gone 1-for-20 during the road trip. On the flip side, the Canucks have given up 2 power play goals against in each of their games against Washington, Detroit, Buffalo, and Chicago. If the club wants to return home with a .500 record from this trip, special teams will definitley be a factor in their meeting with Columbus.

Game time will be 4:00pm PST. I'll have a game-day preview Tuesday morning.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bad Breaks & Bounces Come In Loss to Hawks

It was a night which saw three of the Canucks who started the game wind up on the injured list. It was also a night which saw the Blackhawks have all the bounces go their way as Vancouver dropped a 4-2 decision to Chicago Sunday evening at the United Center.

The visitors couldn't have asked for a better start as Pavol Demitra capitalized on a nice set-up just as a Vancouver power play expired. However, the Canucks found themselves entering the intermission break down a goal as Brent Seabrook tied the game up just past the midway point of the first period while Patrick Sharp gave the Hawks the lead on a power play by having a pass deflect off the stick of Mattias Ohlund and behind Roberto Luongo.

There was no scoring in the middle frame as neither team had many hi-end chances. The best opportunity for Vancouver came with about 20 seconds to go as Steve Bernier was denied on a breakaway by Chicago goalie Christobal Huet.

Five minutes into the 3rd, Ohlund had a point shot wire off the post. A few shifts later, Patrick Kane pounced on a loose puck in the crease during a goal-mouth scramble on a power play which proved to be the winner. Then Sharp got the insurance marker the home team eventually needed with a bank-shot off of Luongo's pads.

Henrik Sedin did get the Canucks back to within a pair with less than five minutes remaining. Despite have the extra attacker on the ice for the final 90 seconds, Vancouver wasn't able to capitalize and wind up dropping their third game of their last four on the road.

The Canucks did out-shoot the Hawks 30-26. Vancouver went 0-for-4 on the power play. They are now officially 2-for-29 on the season and 1-for-20 on their current road swing.

For the fourth game in a row, the Canucks surrended two goals against while skating short-handed. In this game, the Hawks wound up going 2-for-5 with the power play.

As mentioned off the top, three players left the game with injury. Sami Salo was the first to depart with a groin injury. Then Darcy Hordichuk tweeked his knee in an accidental neutral zone collision with line-mate Ryan Johnson. Demitra would not appear in the third period after suffering an injury to his ribs late in the middle session. Take those players and add in forward Rick Rypien, who returned home with the flu, and you can bet a one or two names will be called up from the Manitoba Moose before this trip concludes.

This was my first time watching a game in Chicago. After many down years surrounding the Hawks organization over the past decade, hockey is definitely alive and well in the Windy City. The annouced crowd at the United Center was over 21,000. Witnessing the playing of the Star Spangled Banner with the crowd cheering full blast was quite simply amazing. I remember watching that on television over the years, but those times never did justice to what I heard and saw live in person on Sunday.

Now with a record of 3-3-0, Vancouver will close out the road swing on Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team will skate in Columbus tomorrow. The Jackets are 2-3-0 to start the season and are coming off a 6-3 loss on the road Saturday against the Nashville Predators.

Bieksa Back For Battle Against Blackhawks

The Canucks have a completely healthy line-up as they prepare for their first of four meetings this season against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Defenceman Kevin Bieksa is set to return to the line-up this evening after missing three games with a knee injury. He'll be paired up again with Willie Mitchell, who has collected three assists in his last two games.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Mike Brown make his regular season appearance for Vancouver today. Born and raised on the out-skirts of the Windy City, Brown likely will play on a line with Darcy Hordichuk and Ryan Johnson. That will be a game time decision though as Brown and Rick Rypien will both take the pre-game skate.

Pavol Demitra ranks 8th amongst active NHLers for most career points against Chicago. He has collected 23 goals and 27 assists against the Hawks over the years. The Canucks would love nothing better than have #38 hit the score sheet at the United Center this evening.

As for the Hawks, they're coming off a 4-3 loss in a shoot-out last night on the road against the St. Louis Blues. This will be the first home game for Chicago since Joel Quenneville took over the reigns as Head Coach following the firing of Denis Savard.

Last season, the Canucks went 3-1-0 against the Hawks. Vancouver has only lost once to Chicago since the 2001-02 season. The United Center has been a friendly place to play for the Canucks the last few years, as they're 4-1-0 in their last five meetings there.

Here are the expected line combonations, defensive pairings, and staring goalies for both squads:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Bernier
Raymond - Demitra - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Johnson - Brown or Rypien

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Edler
Salo - O'Brien



Martin Havlat - Patrick Sharp - Dustin Byfuglien
Kris Versteeg - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Andrew Ladd - Dave Bolland - Jack Skille
Ben Eager - Colin Fraser - Adam Burish

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Jordan Henry - Brent Sopel
Aaron Johnson - Brian Campbell

Christobal Huet
Nikolai Khabibulin

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Day Off In Chicago/Wellwood To Manitoba

In the middle of a stretch of playing three games in a span of four nights, the Vancouver Canucks had a complete day away from the rink today in Chicago. They'll carry on with their trip Sunday with a meeting against the hometown Blackhawks at the United Center (4:00pm PST).

Forward Kyle Wellwood has returned home to Vancouver after clearing waivers this morning. He will be making his way to the Manitoba Moose. That clears the way for defenceman Kevin Bieksa to return to the line-up after missing the last three games on the injured reserve list with a knee injury. By the way, the Canucks are back to a roster of 23 players (2 goalies, 8 defencemen, 13 forwards).

The Canucks (3-2) will have the luxury of watching their opponents on television tonight as the Blackhawks are in St. Louis to battle the Blues. The Hawks enter the weekend at 1-2-1 and despite posting a 4-1 win in their last game at home against the Phoenix Coyotes, they've already made a coaching change. Out is Denis Savard, who is one of a handful of players to have their number retired by the Hawks organization. In comes Joel Quenneville, who had been coaching the Colorado Avalanche for the last three seasons. Last year, he led the Avs to a record of 44-31-7.

This is my first time in the Windy City and it is one of the nicest cities I've ever been to. Spent a few hours walking around Michigan Avenue, which is one of the busiest shopping districts in all of North America. Also spent some time checking out a lot of the landmarks while traveling up and down the Chicago River on a water taxi as well as walking up and down the shores of Lake Michigan. Again, I wish I had the opportunity to post some of the pics I've taken! Thankfully the weather has been great because I can only imagine what it might be like here in the middle of the winter! Luckily the only other time the Canucks will play in Chicago will be March 29.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Canucks Fall To Sabres Friday

Penalty trouble and missed opportunities haunted the Canucks Friday night in Buffalo. The Sabres jumped out to a 3-0 lead after twenty minutes which spring-boarded them to a 5-2 win at the HSBC Arena.

The Canucks found themselves down 2-0 on back-to-back power play tallies by Jaroslav Spacek and Clarke MacArthur in the opening 8:30 of the game. Ales Kotalik scored on a long range shot with less than seven minutes to go in the period as his attempt squeeked through the pads of Curtis Sanford.

Ryan Kesler got the Canucks on the board with an ideal start early in the second period as his shot from the right wing beat goalie Ryan Miller high on the short side. A real back-breaking goal for the visitors came just past the midway point of the middle period. Spacek blocked a clearing attempt at the Canucks blue line and his shot towards the goal came to the stick of Thomas Vanek. While at the top of the crease, he was able to get the puck to his back-hand and roof a shot under the cross bar. Vanek, who was the best player on the ice, netted his league-leading 5th of the season.

Vancouver had a couple of great chances to make a game of it before the period was over. While on a power play, Pavol Demitra had a close chance beside the net ring off the cross bar. Then with time winding down, Jannik Hansen missed a glorious chance on a one-timer after taking a great pass on a 2-on-1 rush with Alex Burrows.

The Canucks did get to within two after Daniel and Henrik Sedin were put on different lines to start the third period. Daniel was replaced by Mason Raymond, and he wound up playing on a line with Henrik and Steve Bernier. After good work on the end boards by Raymond and Sedin, Bernier one-timed a shot from the top of the crease behind Miller.

Eventually the home club got their three-goal lead back as Kotalik wired home a drive from the hash marks past Sanford. Vanek got the lone assist, which proved to be his third point of the game.

Final shots did favour the Sabres by a margin of 31-25. Vancouver went 0-for-3 on the power play while the Sabres went 2-for-5. The Canucks are now a combined 2-for-25 on the power play through their first five games this season. Meantime the Sabres continued their read-hot penalty killing, now going a perfect 18-for-18 through their first four straight victories.

The Canucks will have Saturday off as they prepare to carry on their road trip into Chicago where they’ll play the Blackhawks on Sunday. Game time is 4:00pm PST.

Canucks Face Undefeated Sabres Friday

On the heels of a solid come-from-behind win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Vancouver Canucks are in up-state New York to battle the Buffalo Sabres. This will be their one and only meeting of the season. In fact, the Canucks are the only club from the Northwest Division to play a game in Buffalo this year.

It doesn't look like the Canucks (3-1-0) are going to make any changes to their forwards of defence pairings tonight. However one change that is expected to take place is in the crease as Curtis Sanford will likely get the start and allow Roberto Luongo the night off.

Couple of off-ice notes related to the team:

-Kevin Bieksa is back with the club after having a MRI in Vancouver earlier this week. He injured his knee last Saturday in Calgary, but is healthy to play again. Seeing as he is on the club's injured reserve list, he is not eligible to dress again until the game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

-Although I haven't heard anything official, it sounds like Kyle Wellwood has been placed on waivers by the team. His only appearance for Vancouver came in last Monday's 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals, where he had just under 11 minutes in ice time and was a -1.

As for the Sabres (3-0-0), they're off to a great start. They have allowed just three goals against in their first three games and they have yet to allow a goal against while skating short-handed. They currently feature the NHL's leading goal scorer Thomas Vanek (5g) and the league's #1 goaltender Ryan Miller (0.93 GAA) .

Here are the expected match-ups for the two clubs at the HSBC Arena:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Bernier
Raymond - Demitra - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Johnson - Rypien

Ohlund - Edler
Salo - Mitchell
O'Brien - Nycholat


Scratches: Bieksa, Brown, Davison, Wellwood


Thomas Vanek - Derek Roy - Drew Stafford
Maxim Afinogenov - Adam Mair - Ales Kotalik
Daniel Paille - Clarke MacArthur - Jason Pominville
Patrick Kaleta - Matt Ellis - Andrew Peters

Henrik Tallinder - Craig Rivet
Jaroslav Spacek - Andrej Sekera
Toni Lydman - Teppo Numminen

Ryan Miller
Patrick Lalime

Scratches: Tim Connolly, Nathan Paetsch, Paul Gaustad, Jochen Hecht

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Canucks Rally For Win @ Joe Louis Arena

For the second time in less than a week, the Vancouver Canucks overcame a 3rd period deficit and came back to win in overtime. Alex Burrows netted his team-leading third goal of the campaign just 27 seconds into overtime to lift the Canucks to a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. In the process it gave head coach Alain Vigneault his 200th win in the NHL.

Despite being out-shot 11-8 in the opening period, the Canucks held a 2-1 lead as Jannik Hansen (1) and Ryan Kesler (2) book-ended goals around a power play tally from Tomas Holmstrom. It was Hansen's first ever goal in the NHL while Kesler had the Canucks up by one in front of his home-state family and friends.

Vancouver was a bit unlucky not have to built up a bigger lead into the middle session as they missed a number of high-end quality chances around the goal of Chris Osgood. Eventually the Wings got into the lead on a power play goal from Brian Rafalski and a breakaway finish by Dan Cleary after he had just stepped out of the penalty box.

A key turning point in the game came on the opening shift of the third period as the line of Kesler, Hansen, and Burrows put the Wings on the heels. A few minutes later, the Canucks were able to break in on a 3-on-1 rush. Pavol Demitra's drop pass found Willie Mitchell. His one-timer was denied, but the rebound opportunity for Mason Raymond wasn't as he burried his first of the season.

Neither team could break the 3-3 deadlock through the rest of regulation, so the game was forced to overtime. Burrows wound up crossing into the Wings zone and his initial drive went wide of the target. However he gathered up the rebound off the end boards and snapped it underneath the Detroit netminder, which signalled a massive off-pouring of Canucks skaters off the bench to celebrate in the Red Wings territory.

Vancouver was out-shot 35-29 on the night. The Canucks went 0-for-4 on the power play and are 2-for-22 through their first four games of the season. Detroit finished the night 2-for-5 with the man advantage.

Next up for the Canucks (3-1-0) are the Sabres in Buffalo (3-0-0). The Sabres are coming off a 3-1 win on the road over the New York Rangers on Wednesday. They feature sniper Thomas Vanek, who scored twice at Madison Square Garden. He is one of four players to hold the league-lead in goal scoring this season (5). They also have one of the most experienced bench-bosses in the NHL as Lindy Ruff is coming off his 400th career win behind the Sabres bench.

I wouldn't be surprised if Roberto Luongo gets the night off after starting the first four games of the season. That would pave the way for Curtis Sanford to get the call between the pipes after playing the final 20 minutes in Monday's 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.

The game will be a 4:30pm PST start from the HSBC Arena. Yours truly and Tom Larscheid will have the call on the Team 1040.

Canucks In Motor City

It won't be an easy way to try and bounce back into the win column for the Canucks this evening as they get set for their first meeting against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. However, they do have a bit of luck going for them as they head into tonight's match-up against the Detroit Red Wings.

Vancouver held an optional skate at Joe Louis Arena this morning after a full team practice yesterday. The club will go back to their opening-night line-up as far as forwards are concerned while bringing in a new face on defence. That means Darcy Hordichuk comes back on to the line with Ryan Johnson and Rick Rypien while Lawrence Nycolet appears on defence to be paired up alongside Shane O'Brien.

As for the Wings, they will be without one of their most potent offensive threats as Henrik Zetterberg is sidelined with a groin injury suffered yesterday in practice. In his absence, Detroit has called up forward Darren Helm from their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.

Here are the expected line combos and defensive pairings for both teams:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Bernier
Raymond - Demitra - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Johnson - Rypien

Ohlund - Edler
Salo - Mitchell
Nycolet - O'Brien


(Scratches: Bieksa, Davison, Brown, Wellwood)

Red Wings

Tomas Holmstrom - Pavel Datsyuk - Marian Hossa
Johan Franzen - Valtteri Filppula - Mikael Samuelsson
Dan Cleary - Kris Draper - Jiri Hudler
Thomas Kopecky - Darren Helm - Kirk Maltby

Andreas Lilja - Nicklas Lidstrom
Brad Stuart - Brian Rafalski
Brett Lebda - Niklas Kronwall

Chris Osgood
Ty Conklin

(Scratches: Derek Meech, Henrik Zetterberg, Darren McCarty, Chris Chelios)

Last season, the Canucks went 1-3-0, which included two losses at Joe Louis Arena. Face off for tonight's first meeting of the year is at 4:30pm PST.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day Off After Night Off

The Canucks skated at the Vorizon Center today in Washington after waking up from their embarassing 5-1 loss the night before to the hometown Capitals.

It was a pretty upbeat practice with lots of energy and enthusiasm, which is what you'd expect from a team that laid an egg the previous night. Talking to some of the players afterwards, they certainly know they had a bad performance. And they also know that if they come anywhere close to that same effort on Thursday, the end result could be a whole lot worse.

The only player who did not take part in practice was forward Taylor Pyatt, who is nursing a sore foot after blocking a shot against the Caps. Taking Pyatt's spot on the line with Pavol Demitra and Mason Raymond was Kyle Wellwood.

Following the practice and after sending some audio clips back to the radio station in Vancouver, I had a chance to tour around Washington for a couple of hours. It really is an amazing city with so much to see. I obviously couldn't see everything I wanted to, but I did make it to most of the places I wanted to visit. That included the Vietnam Memorial Wall, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, the Reflecting Pool, the Arlington Cementary, and the Kennedy Gravesites.

I did take plenty of photos but I don't have the proper hook-up to put them up on the blog. Hopefully I'll have a collection to post after the entire Canucks trip is complete next week.

The Canucks won't skate again until Wednesday afternoon in Detroit when they prepare to battle the Red Wings. Speaking of the Wings, they were in Washington today hanging out with President George Bush at the White House to celebrate last year's Stanley Cup victory.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Not A Pretty Night In D.C.

With what the Vancouver Canucks have done in the past few weeks, Monday's performance on the road was a complete surprise. And a complete disappointment too as the Washington Capitals took advantage of a very flat opponent and skated away with a 5-1 win.

The Canucks were extremely fortunate to be down 2-1 after the first period, one that saw them get out-shot 10-2. Alexander Edler's power play goal was book-ended ny goals from Capitals forward Alexander Semin and d-man Mike Green.

Just when you thought the Canucks couldn't have a more unfortunate period in the middle frame, they went backwards. A single shot on net was all the visitors could show for their efforts while the Caps netted three more on 15 shots. Roberto Luongo's last goal allowed was a penalty shot converted by Michael Nylander late in the period. Fellow netminder Curtis Sanford came in between the pipes for the final twenty and stopped all 10 shots he faced.

It's the type of game players and coaches would much rather forget about and have the game film destroyed. However, with this being the club's first loss and with the fact their next opponent is the defending Stanley Cup Champions, they will have to think about what went wrong. More importantly, they'll need to think about how to fix what went wrong, because if they're not ready to rebound in a big way in Detroit on Thursday, they could be in trouble when they take on the Red Wings in Motown.

Tomorrow the club will practice here in Washington and have a chance to see some of the sights around the city. This is my first time here in the U.S. capital and it really is a great place. I'm looking forward to doing some sight-seeing of my own once I'm away from the rink.

Ovechkin & Co. Set To Host Canucks

The Canucks are in the U.S. capital preparing for their one and only meeting of the season with Washington tonight. With both teams coming off victories and with this featuring a head-to-head meeting between one of the best goalies and best goal scorers in the NHL, this is a game I'm really looking forward to watching.

A few changes to the Canucks roster are likely to take place. For starters, Kevin Bieksa is not with the team. After suffering a knee injury in Calgary Saturday, Bieksa has returned home and will undergo a MRI Tuesday. In his absence, Rob Davison will factor into the line-up and make his Vancouver debut on the blue line.

Also possibly making his Canucks debut could be forward Kyle Wellwood. Coach Alain Vigneault mentioned after the pre-game skate this morning that it would be a game-time decision on whether Wellwood or Darcy Hordichuk will play on a line with Ryan Johnson and Rick Rypien.

The Capitals are also expecting to make a few changes after a 1-1-0 start to their season. Sergei Fedorov is likely to play on defence for the first time this season while goalie Brent Johnson is expected to get the start over Jose Theodore. The Caps are coming off a 4-2 win at home Saturday night against the Chicago Blackhawks. Alexander Ovechkin had a pair of goals to lead the home team to their first win, after Washington had been shelled 7-4 the night before in Atlanta against the Thrashers.

Here are the line combos and defensive pairings expected for tonight's match-up:


D.Sedin - H. Sedin - Bernier
Raymond - Demitra - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk/Wellwood - Johnson - Rypien

Salo - Mitchell
O'Brien - Ohlund
Edler - Davison


Scratches (Bieksa, Mike Brown, Lawrence Nycolet)


Alexander Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Viktor Kozlov
Brooks Laich - Michael Nylander - Alexander Semin
Thomas Fleischmann - Boyd Gordon - Chris Clark
Donald Brashear - David Steckel - Matt Bradley

Shaone Morrison - Mike Green
Tom Poti - Jeff Schultz
Sergei Fedorov - Milan Jurcina

Brent Johnson
Jose Theodore

Scratches: (Eric Fehr, John Erskine)

Couple of side notes to be aware of for this game:

-coach Vigneault is one win away from 200 for his NHL coaching career
-Daniel Sedin is the NHL Player of the Week. His two goals and three assists through Vancouver's first two games has him atop the NHL scoring lead
-Canucks have won their last five meetings against the Caps
-Roberto Luongo (since 2004) is 7-0-3 against Washington
-Alexander Edler is appearing in his 100th career game with the Canucks
-the Caps have a whopping seven of their former 1st round draft picks in their line-up (Backstrom, Fehr, Gordon, Green, Ovechkin, Schultz, and Semin)
-Sergei Fedorov is one goal away from tying Alexander Mogilny for most NHL goals scored by a Russian-born player. Mogilny's record is 473
-NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will be in attendance at the Vorizon Center for this game

This will also be the first Canucks Pay-Per-View game of the season. Whether you'll be watching it or listening to it, it's got the makings of a great game!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Comeback Win Over Calgary Saturday

It hasn't happened that often the past few seasons when the Canucks have allowed four goals against and won a hockey game. However, they were able to do just that as they gutted out 5-4 win in overtime over the Calgary Flames Saturday night at the Saddledome.

Pavol Demitra played the role of overtime hero converting a 2-on-1 rush with Alex Burrows. It was Demitra's first goal in a Vancouver uniform and it also proved to be his 700th career point in his NHL career.

Despite scoring the opening goal of the night courtesy of Daniel Sedin, the Canucks were down 3-1 after twenty minutes. However a couple of key turning points early on in the 2nd period saw momentum shift in Vancouver's favour. First, Roberto Luongo made a big diving save with his stick to rob Rene Bourque at the side of the crease while Calgary worked a power play. Then Rick Rypien dropped the gloves with Brandon Prust and proceeded to pound him with a series of vicous uppercuts.

Before you knew it just past the midway point of the game, the two clubs were tied 3-3. Rypien and Ryan Kesler each tallied 62 seconds apart. But as the 2nd period came to a close, the Flames had built up a one-goal lead again after Mike Cammalleri had netted his first as a Flames forward.

The line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, along with Steve Bernier got the eventual equalizer for the Canucks 6:10 into the third period. Great work on the cycle behind the net of Miikka Kiprusoff allowed Daniel to snap home his second of the game from low in the slot. With two goals and three assists in his first two games, Daniel finds himself the leading scorer in the NHL.

Vancouver entered overtime working on a power play but failed to convert on the 4-on-3 man advantage. However Demitra was able to seal the deal for the Canucks who have scored (pre-season included) 17 goals against the Flames in three meetings.

The Canucks went 0-for-5 on the power play in this game, which made them 1-for-14 in the two wins against the Flames. Still their penalty kill was very solid, going 7-for-7 in Calgary and a perfect 13-for-13 against their opponents in their head-to-head meetings.

The news was not good for Kevin Bieksa in this game. In the first period, he wound up getting pitch-forked in the knee by Wayne Primeau when trying to deliver a hit on the boards. Bieksa came out for one more shift but did not appear on the ice for the final two periods. It's not yet known how long he might be out of action for.

The Canucks will fly out to Washington, D.C. Sunday morning as they carry on with their six-game road swing. Their next meeting will be with the Capitals on Monday night. This is a Canucks pay-per-view broadcast and it will be the one and only time this season the Canucks face the reigning NHL scoring champion Alexander Ovechkin. He's coming off a two-goal effort Saturday in the Caps 4-2 home-opening win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Road Trip Opens In Cowtown Tonight

Don't be surprised to see a few fireworks at the Pengrowth Saddledome tonight as the Canucks open up their six-game road trip against the Calgary Flames.

The Canucks are not expected to make any line-up changes from the one they iced in Thursday's 6-0 romp over the Flames at GM Place. As far as the Flames go, Robyn Regher will be on the ice to anchor their blue-line after missing Thursday's match-up to be with his wife who had gone into labour. Forward Brandon Prust could factor into the Flames line-up to bring them a little extra muscle on the wing.

There's plenty of hype in Calgary leading up to their home-opener, and you can only imagine what the vibe is like in this city after the Flames soiled the sheets two nights ago.

It wouldn't shock me to see a scrap or two early on in this contest...for nothing more than to set the tone and pump up the volume in the arena. Remember, imagine if you were a part of a team that was holding their home opener against a team that you've been out-scored 12-1 in your last two meetings with them? What would you do?!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Big Blow Out Against Flames On Opening Night

The script really couldn't have been written any better. In front of Vancouver's 216th consecutive sell-out crowd, on a night which saw tribute paid to the loss of a former team-mate and family member, the Canucks laid a beating on one of their most hated rivals in the NHL. Nine different players hit the scoresheet in a game that featured a little bit of everything as the Canucks opened up the regular season by shutting out Calgary 6-0.

Before the home-opener, a wonderful pre-game ceremony took place to honour the memory of former Canucks defenceman Luc Bourdon. With Canadian recording artist Tom Cochrane on hand to sing "Big League", a video tribute was shown on the jumbo screen at GM Place in front of the Canucks players, their fans, and members of the Bourdon family. It was a touching tribute to a player that left us far too early.

The ice was tilted in Calgary's favour for much of the opening period as the Canucks found themselves in penalty trouble. However, the netminding efforts of captain Roberto Luongo kept the home team in it and eventually Vancouver had the lead going into the final two periods thanks to a goal by Henrik Sedin.

The two periods to follow were not good for the road team, thanks in large part to some pretty dominating territorial play by Vancouver. Alex Burrows, one of Bourdon's closest friends during their time together, wore his heart on his sleeve in this game, scoring twice to be named the game's 1st Star. Other scorers in the game for the Canucks included Steve Bernier (even strength), Mattias Ohlund (power play) and Rick Rypien (short-handed).

There was no shortage of fireworks and physical play between these two clubs. Whenever liberties may have been taken against Vancouver players, Canucks team-mates stood up for each other. This was especially true when Luongo found himself in a shoving match with Damond Langkow and Jannik Hansen arrived on the scene to fire a series of punches to his opponents head. As well, when Henrik Sedin got wiped out inside the Flames blue-line by Dion Phaneuf, there was Bernier to jump in and take on the blue-liner in the game's lone scrap. Outside of the scoring and the saves, that may have been one of the most satisfying aspects of the Canucks performance.

Having started off on the right foot, the Canucks now embark on a six-game road trip that will zig-zag across the continent. It kicks off with a return meeting with the Flames on Saturday. You know the Flames will be (pardon the pun) fired up for their home opener at the Pengrowth Saddledome. It will definitely be a big time challenge put in front of the Canucks. However with the way this team has come together and performed the past few weeks, it's hard to imagine this club not meeting this challenge head-on.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Regular Season Opens....Finally!!

After going through a near perfect pre-season, the Canucks finally get to play for keeps as they open up their year at General Motors Place tonight against the Calgary Flames.

The last time these two clubs met was October 1, with the Canucks taking their opponents to the woodshed in a big 6-1 victory.

Here are the line combos and defensive pairings that skated together at the game day skate:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Bernier
Ryamond - Demitra - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Johnson - Rypien

Ohlund - Edler
Mitchell - Bieksa
Salo - O'Brien


(expected scratches are Davison, Brown, and Wellwood)


Bertuzzi - Conroy - Iginla
Bourque - Langkow - Cammalleri
Glencross - Lombardi - Moss
Roy - Primeau - Boyd

Phaneuf - Giordano
Vandermeer - Aucoin
Sarich - Regher


(expected scratches are Nystrom, Prust, and Pardy)

Canucks bench boss Alain Vigneault confirmed after their morning skate that Shane O'Brien will make his Vancouver debut on the blue line, just a few days after arriving in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Calgary will dress Dustin Boyd, who yesterday had been expected to be sent down to their AHL affiliate in Quad City.

Prior to the opening face off of tonight's game, a special on-ice and video ceremony will take place to honour the memory of former Canucks defenceman Luc Bourdon. Both teams will be on the ice for the ceremony. Flames Head Coach Mike Keenan has gone through something similar before. Back when he was behind the bench of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1985, his goaltender Pelle Lindbergh was killed in a car crash.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Trio Waived/Bourdon Ceremony

The Vancouver Canucks officially gave word today that forwards Jason Krog, Matt Pettinger, and Jeff Cowan all cleared waivers and will report to the American Hockey League.

Krog and Pettinger will head straight to the Canucks AHL affiliate in Winnipeg. However, seeing as the Manitoba Moose have reached their quota of NHL players on their roster, they didn't have enough room for Cowan. The Canucks, who will still pay his salary, reached an agreement with the St. Louis Blues, who have allowed him to play for their AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen.

With less than a day to go before the start of the regular season, the Canucks had one final full practice Wednesday at the Pacific Coliseum. Word came down during the day that the Canucks are going to unveil the Luc Bourdon Wall of Dreams prior to the home opener. The wall, which will be located in GM Place, will honour Bourdon's life as well as those in minor hockey.

In addition, the Canucks also announced that funds raised in the home opening Canucks For Kids Fund 50/50 draw will be donated in Luc's name to a BC children's charity. As well, a carry-over of $82,950 from last season's unclaimed 50/50 funds will be added to the winner's share of Thursday evening's draw. I will definitley be purchasing some tickets at this game, and it's not because I think I'll win the cash.

Prior to the start of the action against the Calgary Flames, a special ceremony will occur to honour the memory of Bourdon, who lost his life last June in a motorcycle accident near his home in New Brunswick. The game was scheduled to start at 7:30pm, but don't expect the action to get going until after 7:50pm. Members of Luc's family and some of his closest friends will be on hand for what's sure to be a very emotional tribute to the former Canucks defenceman.

My only interaction with Bourdon came in 2006. It was May of that year, nearly a year after he had been selected 10th overall in the NHL Entry Draft by the Canucks. It was in Moncton, NB which was the host city for the Memorial Cup. The Vancouver Giants were champs of the WHL that season and it was my first chance to be with a team chasing a Memorial Cup dream. Bourdon played for the host Wildcats team that spring. I had a chance to interview him prior to the first of two meetings that tournament between the Giants and Wildcats. English was not his second language, and I knew that going in to our conversation. However as we spoke, I could tell he was a well-mannered kid who had worked really hard at his interview skills during the season. We had a good conversation and his thoughts and answers to my questions were very clear for all to hear. He had a decent tournament for the host team and was a big time pain to play against. Canucks fans could see in the years to follow that he had a bright future ahead of him as a professional.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Veteran Pair Waived Tuesday

Although it hasn't been confirmed by the organization, TSN is reporting that both Jason Krog and Matt Pettinger have been placed on waivers by the Canucks. Krog was a free agent signee of the Canucks during the off-season, posting a goal and an assist in five pre-season games with Vancouver. while Pettinger was acquired last year in a trade with the Washington Capitals for Matt Cooke.

Other notable players in the NHL placed on the waiver wire Tuesday include Kyle McLaren (San Jose), Aaron Downey (Detroit), Peter Schaefer (Boston), Boyd Devereaux and Staffan Kronwall (Toronto).

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday's Musings From Canuck Nation

Not a quiet day by any means for the Canucks when it came to starting off the last few days before the start of the regular season.

For starters, the Canucks skated at the Pacific Coliseum instead of GM Place. It was a little different for me watching a practice in that building that didn't involve the Vancouver Giants. While I was there, the following press release from the Canucks came across my blackberry:

Vancouver Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that the Canucks have acquired defenceman Shane O’Brien and right wing Michel Ouellet in exchange for defenceman Lukas Krajicek and right wing Juraj Simek from the Tampa Bay Lightning. O’Brien will report to Vancouver and Ouellet will report to Manitoba.

O’Brien, 25, spent the 2007-08 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, recording 21 points (4-17-21) in 77 games played. The Port Hope, Ontario-native has played in 158 NHL games, scoring six goals and 31 assists for a total of 37 points and recording 330 penalty minutes. The 6’2”, 235-pound defenceman was selected in the eighth round, 250th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks.

Ouellet, 26, has played in 187 career NHL games with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, registering 116 points (52-64-116). The 6’0”, 201-pound right wing was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team in 2004. Born in Rimouski, Quebec, Ouellet was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fourth round, 124th overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

I can't really comment on the players coming into the Canucks organization as I've never seen them play and can only really go by their stats to see what type of the players they might be. As for Krajicek, he just didn't seem to be an ideal fit into the Canucks mix on defence. A great NHL-skater and a decent puck-mover, he just didn't provide much in the way of great play in his own end. As for Simek, I've watched him since his days with the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL. A skilled player with good speed, he's still a few years away from earning a full-time spot on an NHL roster.


Less than an hour after the trade announcement, this release from the Canucks came across my blackberry:

Vancouver Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that Cody Hodgson will return to Brampton for the 2008-09 season. Hodgson, 18, signed his first pro contract on Sunday October 5, 2008 after playing in three NHL preseason games, recording an assist and six penalty minutes. Last season, Hodgson had 40 goals and 45 assists with the Battalion. His 40 goals led the team and his 85 points were good to rank him in the top 20 in OHL scoring last year.

On the international level, Hodgson captained Canada’s Gold Medal winning U-18 entry in the World Junior Championships, and led the tournament in scoring with 12 points in 7 games. The 6'0", 185 pound forward from Haliburton, Ontario was drafted tenth overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, this is really the best move for both Hodgson and the Canucks. This kid, if he stays healthy, will be one of the more dominant players in the OHL this winter and certainly has a shot at wearing the 'C' for Canada at the World Juniors in Ottawa.


Following practice, the Canucks had their media availability at GM Place. Gillis appeared in front of the media and answered questions about the trade and Hodgson's re-assignment to junior. He also confirmed forward Mike Brown has not been placed on waivers after-all. The intention was to place him on waivers this weekend, but once the Canucks got word they might lose him, they decided to re-call him to Vancouver and keep him on their roster. With Brown returning to the mix and O'Brien coming to town, that now sees Vancouver with 26 players on their roster (2 goalies, 8 defence, and 16 forwards).

All NHL teams have to declare their 23-player rosters by Wednesday October 8 at 9:00am PST. I'd be surprised if the Canucks placed any of their current players on the waiver wire until just minutes before the deadline.

The team is scheduled to skate at GM Place tomorrow afternoon. I'm looking forward to seeing if tomorrow will be anywhere close to as an eventful day as what Monday has been!

Pre-Season Ends In OT Loss

In a topsy-turvy special teams affair, the Canucks fell 4-3 in overtime to the Anaheim Ducks Sunday night at GM Place. All of Vancouver's goals came on the power play while a former Canuck, who happened to be the newest face in the Ducks line-up, netted the winner early in the extra session.

Mason Raymond led the offence for Vancouver with a pair of power play goals while Henrik Sedin also cashed in on the man advantage. Pavol Demitra and Alexander Edler may have been the most consistent performers in their respective positions in this game and were rewarded for their efforts by picking up a pair of assists each. Brendan Morrison, making his return to his former stomping grounds for the first time, opened the scoring for Anaheim with a power play goal of his own. Travis Moen and Corey Perry tallied even strength for the Ducks to force the game to OT.

Just after serving a penalty which carried on to the extra frame, Nathan McIver, who had been picked up off the waiver wire from the Canucks a few days earlier, was sprung free on a breakaway and made no mistake beating goalie Roberto Luongo.

Vancouver out-shot Anaheim 30-28 on a night which saw the Canucks go 3-for-8 on the power play and 7-for-8 on the penalty kill.

The next 48-72 hours will be very interesting to watch and see what the Canucks do in the way of attempting to solidify their opening-night roster. Currently there are 26 players on their active roster (2 goalies, 8 defencemen, and 16 forwards). What makes things a bit more intriguing is the fact that blue-liner Lawrence Nycolet suffered a back injury in the game against Anaheim and it's not known how long he'll be side-lined for. There is always a risk of sending players to the minors and having them picked up off waivers. With the Canucks depth on 'D', do they really need to jeopardize that by putting any of their current eight blue-liners on waivers?

Despite having signed his first NHL entry level contract before this game, Cody Hodgson likely is destined to return to his junior team in Brampton, Ontario of the OHL. He needs to play in all situations to develop faster. He needs to step into a huge spotlight this winter known as the World Juniors (where he'd likely be captain for Canada). Is he good enough to play in the NHL right now? In my opinion: maybe. But with this team right now? In my opinion: no.

If Hodgson is sent back to junior, who do the coaches go with to fill either 13 or 14 forwards? To me, the following players have guaranteed their spots on the following lines:

D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Bernier
Raymond - Demitra - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Johnson - ???

Assuming the Canucks go with seven d-men, that leaves Rick Rypien, Kyle Wellwood, Matt Pettinger, and Jason Krog to battle for two of the last four spots. The latter of the three have lots of NHL experience, which may give them the edge. However Rypien does have the stronger edge in grit and toughness, which will definitely be put into consideration.

Who knew going into the first weekend of the regular season that the Canucks coaches and management would have such huge decisions to make? I've said all along, the off-season and pre-season would be very intriguing for Canucks fans to see how this team takes shape. That's definitely proving to be true with the home opener about to take place on Thursday!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Canucks Trim Roster/Line-up vs Ducks

The Canucks now have 26 players on their active roster after a series of moves this weekend.

Forwards Jeff Cowan and Mike Brown have been placed on waivers for the purposes of being sent to the Manitoba Moose. Defenceman Nolan Baumgartner has gone straight to Winnipeg, but fellow blue-liner Nathan McIver didn't get there as he was scooped off the waiver wire by the Anaheim Ducks. He likely will make his debut in a Ducks uniform at GM Place tonight.

18 year-old forward Cody Hodgson is still with the team, but will not dress tonight. Rumour has it that the Canucks 1st round pick from this summer has signed an entry level contract, but nothing has been made official yet.

Other skaters not expected on the Canucks roster tonight are d-men Rob Davison and Lukas Krajicek and forwards Ryan Johnson and Matt Pettinger.

So with that, here's how the lines look for tonight's final pre-season game:

D.Sedin - H.Sedin - Bernier
Raymond - Demitra - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Krog - Wellwood

Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - Mitchell
Salo - Nycolet

Luongo (expected to play whole game)

Anaheim did not skate today, but they'll have many similar faces in the line-up as to what they had last Sunday when they hosted Vancouver. One new face that could be in action is Brendan Morrison, who did not play in their previous meeting. The former Canucks speedster has appeared in two pre-season games for the Ducks, collecting four assists.

Off to Swanguard Stadium now for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact USL First Division soccer playoff. Then it's straight to GM Place for what could be the seventh straight win by the Canucks. Can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Twins Lead Canucks To 6th Straight

It wasn't a pretty win by any means, but who says they need to be in the pre-season. For the 4th time in the exhibition campaign, the Vancouver Canucks were forced to play catch-up hockey. However, their #1 line would be able to rally the troops back as they skated away with a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks Thursday night.

Daniel Sedin (1g,2a), Henrik Sedin (1g,1a,GWG) and Steve Bernier (1g) led the offence on the night for the home team. Henrik's goal proving to be the game winner was netted in the opening minute of the third period just as a Canucks power play had expired. Vancouver's first two goals, both in the middle frame, came on the man advantage.

Certainly a difference-maker on this night was goalie Curtis Sanford. Although he struggled with rebound control early on, his performance in the final 40 minutes alone was reason enough to warrant one of the 3 Stars. In the opening frame, he allowed one goal by Riley Armstrong in a period where Vancouver was out-shot 12-3. In the final period, he shut the door as the Sharks out-shot the home team 13-4.

Vancouver has scored nine power play goals in the pre-season and at least one in each of their six victories. They've also been excellent on the penalty kill, allowing just five goals against on 34 short-handed situations.

As mentioned off the top, the Canucks had to come-from-behind to win this game. Of their first six wins, four have occured when their opponents have scored the opening goal. That's a sign of a team that's showing some pretty strong character traits heading into the regular season.

Much like their wins over San Jose last Saturday and Anaheim on Sunday, this was in many respects a "will-over-skill victory". The Sharks put the majority of their high-end talent in the line-up against Vancouver. The likes of Joe Thorton, Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi, Jonathan Cheechoo, Rob Blake, Dan Boyle, Milan Michalek, and Evgeni Nabokov all dressed for the Sharks. However none were really huge factors in a one-goal loss. Thorton by the way did not appear in the third period as he apparently rested a nagging groin injury.

With the start to the regular season less than one week away, the Canucks will have Friday off for a well-deserved rest. The club will try to make it a perfect 7-for-7 in the pre-season on Sunday night when they entertain the Ducks.

Line-up For San Jose/Roster Down To 30

The Canucks are going to tweek things a little bit in preparation for their game against San Jose Thursday night. Here are the line-ups and defence pairings expected for the home team.

D.Sedin - H.Sedin - Bernier
Raymond - Johnson - Wellwood
Burrows - Krog - Hansen
Hordichuk - Rypien - Brown

Mitchell - Bieksa
Nycolet - Salo
Davison - Krajicek


Don't know what the San Jose combos and pairings are going to look like as they don't arrive to town until just before game time.

Vancouver released four players this morning. Goalie Cory Schneider, D Shaun Heshka, and F Alex Bolduc have all been assigned to the Manitoba Moose. D Zack FitzGerald will have to clear waivers before he can be officially assigned to Winnipeg.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Flood Gates Open Vs Calgary

For the first time since last December, the Canucks scored more than five goals in a single game on home ice. The line of Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, and Jannik Hansen was a collective +9 and ten different players hit the score sheet in a huge 6-1 thumping of the Flames Wednesday night at GM Place.

Those players that stood out for me for various reasons included:

Mason Raymond (1g,+2): Absolutley flying on this night. Should have deserved a whole lot more than just one goal as he led all Canucks forwards in shots (5). His goal was a hi-lite reel effort on a backhand that beat Mikka Kiprusoff high on the short-side. Became 15th player on the Canucks pre-season roster to hit the goal-scorer's column in the first five games of the exhibition campaign. Showed great chemistry with linemates Pavol Demitra (1g,2a) and Taylor Pyatt (1a).

The line of Burrows (2a), Kesler (3a), and Hansen (2g): The most offensive line of the game for Vancouver, despite averaging less than 12 minutes of ice time in the game. All players went to the net to either create or attempt scoring chances. Caused a lot of fits for the Calgary defence low in their zone which resulted in close-range opportunites around Kiprusoff.

Roberto Luongo (35 saves): Eventhough this was a 5-goal difference in favour of the home team, we're not even discussing the end result if it wasn't for the captain. Was very strong in periods 1 and 3. A huge cross-crease pad save on David Moss in the first period on a Calgary power play was a big factor in keeping the Canucks in the lead going into the locker room after 20 minutes.

Alexander Edler (1g): Was the Canucks best blue-liner, leading all players in ice time (24:19). Scored on the opening shot of the game 21 seconds in, one of his five shots in the contest. With the likes of Ohlund, Bieksa, Mitchell, and Salo not in the line-up, he stepped into a bigger leadership role than what's normally expected of him.

Lawrence Nycolet (1g,1a,+3): Quietly had another responsible performance in both ends of the rink. Jumped at the opportunity to get into the slot to score a back-breaking goal in the eyes of the Flames late in the 2nd period. In three games this pre-season, he has 1g,1a and is a +5. Although likely destined to start the year in Winnipeg, he's become a valuable member of the Canucks depth on the blue-line.

Now 5-0, the Canucks have out-scored the opposition 21-12 in the pre-season. Even more satisfying to fans that wondered where the scoring was going to come from....26 players have collected either goals or assists in the first five games.

Next up, the San Jose Sharks invade GM Place Thursday night. And they're bringing their near full roster to Vancouver as the likes of Evgeni Nabokov, Rob Blake, Milan Michalek, Patrick Marleau, Jonathan Cheechoo, Devin Setoguchi, and Joe Thorton are all scheduled to dress against the Canucks.

Canucks/Flames Game Day

This just in.....there will be no Todd Bertuzzi sighting at tonight's game at GM Place....unless of course you spot him sitting in the press box.

Here are the expected line combonations for both clubs for tonight's game:

Canucks (4-0-0):



(#1 is indeed healthy and is expected to go the full 60 minutes)

Flames (4-1-0):

Rene Bourque-Daymond Langkow-Jarome Iginla
Dustin Boyd-Mikael Backlund-Jamie Lundmark
Curtis Glencross-Craig Conroy-David Moss
Andrew Roy-Wayne Primeau-Eric Nystrom

Robyn Regher-Adrian Aucoin
Mark Giordano-Dion Phaneuf
Adam Purdy-Cory Sarich

Mikka Kipprasoff
Curtis McElhinney

Game time is 7:00pm