Saturday, January 31, 2009

Canucks & Wild Game Day

The Vancouver Canucks (22-20-7), in as desperate a need for a victory as they've been in the past decade, are preparing for their fourth of six meetings against the Minnesota Wild (24-21-3).
The two clubs enter the night tied in points (51), but if the playoffs were to start today, both teams would be on the outside looking in.

The Canucks are 3-0-0 against the Wild this season, outscoring their Northwest Division rivals 7-3 in those games. Henrik Sedin (5a), Daniel Sedin (2g,1a), and Kevin Bieksa (1g,2a) lead the Canucks in scoring while Mikko Koivu (3g) and Antti Miettinen (2a) lead the Wild. Vancouver has gone a combined 3-for-11 on the power play in their head-to-head meetings with Minnesota, as well as a perfect 8-for-8 on the penalty kill. For what it's worth, the Wild have never lost four straight games in regulation to the Canucks.

Having lost eight straight games on home ice and nine of their last ten, the Canucks as you might expect are making a few changes to their line-up. Both Mike Brown and Rob Davison will come into the roster, taking the spots of Mason Raymond and Shane O'Brien. Brown, who has not dressed in the last nine games, will play on a line with Darcy Hordichuk and Ryan Johnson. Davison, who has only appeared in seven games since the Christmas break, will be paired up on defence alongside Kevin Bieksa.

Mats Sundin will start on a line in tonight's game skaing with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. In eight games, Sundin has two goals, one assist, and is a -5, worst of any Canucks forward.

The Wild are coming off a 3-1 loss on the road last night against the Edmonton Oilers. Prior to that, they posted a 6-1 win at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Koivu leads the Wild in scoring (13g,34a) while Pierre-Marc Bouchard has points in back-to-back games (2g,2a).

Andrew Brunette played in his 500th consecutive game last Tuesday. The NHL's current Iron Man has tallied 14g,32a=46pts in 51 career games against the Canucks.

Both teams had optional skates at GM Place this morning. Here is what the Canucks line-up is expected to look like tonight when the two clubs face off at 7:00pm PST:

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

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - Davison


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Spirited Canucks Practice Thursday

It wasn't your typical practice today for the Canucks at UBC. Mind you, that's probably what you might expect when the club is coming off a disappointing 5-3 loss at GM Place last night to the Nashville Predators. And it's also what fans shouldn't be surprised at when the team is currently riding their longest home-ice winless streak in franchise history.

The hi-lite came in an altercation during a drill that involved Willie Mitchell, Mason Raymond, and Shane O'Brien. Mitchell threw a hard, clean hit on Raymond at one blue-line. Shortly afterwards at the other end of the rink, Mitchell and Raymond collided again and a shoving match started. O'Brien came on the scene and it looked like the gloves might come off. However cooler heads prevailed and the practiced continued without incident.

The other big news coming out of practice was Mats Sundin working on a line with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. While Burrows and Kesler are considered more of checkers than scorers, they have been two of the better Canuck forwards during this slump, and that's why the coaches have put them with Sundin.

Lots of media on hand, sports-related and others, at GM Place once the players and coaches arrived back at their headquarters. Alain Vigneault answered numerous questions more for than ten minutes, regarding everything from how the team has played at home, his job security, the attitude of the fans, etc.

Pavol Demitra skated with his team mates since injuring his groin prior to the all-star break. Lawrence Nycholat has suffered a groin strain though and has been placed on the injured reserve list.

This is the way the lines and defence pairings worked together today:

D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Sundin
Hansen - Demitra - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Brown
(extras Raymond/Wellwood)

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - Davison
(extra O'Brien)

The club will practice at UBC tomorrow at 11:00am PST.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Canucks Return From All Star Break Ready For Preds

After having a full week off from game action, the Vancouver Canucks have returned to GM Place to prepare for what's sure to be an exciting stretch drive towards the playoffs.

The Canucks entered last week's NHL All Star Break on a six-game winless streak and in a three-way tie with the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks for 6th spot in the Western Conference (51 points). With an overall record of 22-19-7, the Canucks are coming off back-to-back games which saw them earn a point for the efforts, the latest being a 2-1 overtime loss on the road to the San Jose Sharks.

The Canucks are extremely close to being a 100% healthy hockey club returning from the break. Pavol Demitra is the only player not healthy enough to play Wednesday night against the Nashville Predators. The last two days have seen Demitra skate on his own before the rest of the team has practiced together.

Here's how Alain Vigneault has skated his lines and defensive pairings the last two days of practice:

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

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Bieksa
Edler - O'Brien
Nycholat - Davison


Tuesday's practice had plenty of emphasis on their all-around structure. Lots of time was spent on power plays and 5-on-5 situations. Here's how the power play units looked during practice:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Pyatt
Bieksa - Salo


Wellwood - Sundin - Bernier
Ohlund - Edler

Vigneault mentioned after practice that he's not sure if those will be the exact power play units he'll put on the ice tomorrow against the Preds. What makes these units look a bit more interesting is that in the case of the Sedin unit, all forwards are left-handed shooters while Bieksa and Salo are right-handed shots. On Sundin's unit, all the forwards are right-handed shots while the Ohlund-Edler duo shoot left-handed. This could obviously hamper or increase their chances of setting up scoring opportunities either through one-timers from the point or cross-zone passes through the slot.

Both Vigneault and GM Mike Gillis held court with the media this afternoon speaking on a variety of subjects. Gillis shot down theories about the thoughts of firing the coach and he also had some interesting things to say when it came to the financial state of the league and whether or not it will affect how he moves forward with regards to the long-term signings of possibly restricted or unrestricted free agents.

As for the Predators (20-23-3), they're in Vancouver for the fourth and final meeting of the season against the Canucks. Vancouver is 3-0-0 against Nashville, having out-scored their opponents 9-2. In fact, the Predators are winless in their last six games against the Canucks.

The Predators are currently eight points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are the lowest scoring team in the conference (111 goals for) and are a disappointing 3-11-0 against teams in the Northwest Division.

This is how their lines looked during their practice Tuesday afternoon:

J.P. Dumont - Jason Arnott - Steve Sullivan
Ryan Jones - David Legwand - Martin Erat
Joel Ward - Vern Fiddler - Jordin Tootoo
Jarred Smithson - Radek Bonk - Wade Belak/Antti Pihlstrom

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Greg Zanon - Dan Hamhuis
Greg DeVries - Ville Koistinen
Kevin Klein - Alexander Sulzer

Pekka Rinne
Dan Ellis

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Canucks/Sharks Game Day

The Canucks (22-19-6) play their final game before the NHL All Star Break against the Western Conference leading San Jose Sharks (33-6-5).

Vancouver has gone 2-5-3 in the last ten games, including a 6-5 shoot-out loss at home last Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 12 different players registered points in the game for the Canucks on a night in which they home team gave up a 3-1 lead but managed to battle back from a 5-3 deficit.

Pavol Demitra will not dress tonight as he is out with a groin injury. Mason Raymond, a healthy scratch last Sunday, will take Demitra's spot on a line with Mats Sundin and Jannik Hansen.

Sami Salo returns to the line-up tonight and will be paired up to start the game on defence next to Willie Mitchell. Kevin Bieksa will be paired up along-side Mattias Ohlund while the final pairing sees Alexander Edler next to Shane O'Brien.

The Sharks are coming off a hi-lite reel performance on home ice last Saturday night, edging out the Detroit Red Wings 6-5. 11 different Sharks players hit the score sheet, including Ryane Clowe who registered four assits. San Jose's home ice record is a sparkling 21-1-2 this season, with their only loss coming last Thursday in a 3-2 defeat to the Calgary Flames. Rob Blake is not expected to play tonight after injuring his jaw last week.

Claude Lemieux will make his Sharks debut tonight after playing his last game in the NHL in 2003! The four-time Stanley Cup winner is now 43 years old. He started this season playing with the China Sharks in Shanghai before moving to San Jose's AHL affiliate in Worcester. In 23 games in Worcester, he posted three goals and eight assists.

This is the third meeting of the season between the Canucks and Sharks. In their first meeting, the Sharks were 5-0 winners at home Dec. 23. All the goals came in the opening 22 minutes of action. In their most recent match-up, the Sharks scored twice in the third period to double up the Canucks 4-2 at GM Place Jan. 10. Henrik Sedin (2a), Daniel Sedin (1g), and Mats Sundin (1g) lead the Canucks in head-to-head scoring while Patrick Marleau (3g,2a), Joe Thorton (1g,3a), Blake (3a), and Dan Boyle lead the Sharks. Vancouver has gone 1-for-8 on the power play while the Sharks have gone 4-for-12.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams tonight:


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

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Bieksa
Edler - O'Brien



Patrick Marleau - Joe Thorton - Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe - Joe Pavalski - Milan Michalek
Mike Grier - Marcel Goc - Jonathan Cheechoo
Jody Shelley - Thomas Plihal - Claude Lemieux

Alexi Semenov - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Dan Boyle - Douglas Murray
Christian Ehrhoff - Derek Joslin

Evgeni Nabokov
Brian Boucher

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Canucks Earn Point in Wild Shoot Out vs Columbus

Nobody was expecting the Vancouver Canucks and Columbus Blue Jackets to combine for more than ten goals at GM Place Sunday night. However that was the case as the visitors skated away with a 6-5 shoot-out victory, giving them their third straight win against the Canucks this season.

The home team was able to build up a 3-1 lead just past the midway point of the game. Taylor Pyatt snapped out of a 12-game goal-scoring streak by snapping home a shot past Steve Mason 6:43 into the first period. It was Pyatt's 5th of the season, but that didn't keep the Canucks in the lead for long as Manny Malhotra finished off a beautiful passing play by converting a snap shot past Roberto Luongo. It extended his consectutive point-scoring streak to five straight games and it proved to be his 6th of the year at 10:27.

Early in the middle frame, Mats Sundin scored on a fantastic forehand-to-backhand move for his 2nd as a Canuck. Then Steve Bernier scored on a short-side chance after taking a nice pass off the end boards from Ryan Kesler. Bernier now has 11 on the year and it had the Canucks in a comfortable advantage heading towards the intermission break.

The Blue Jackets had other ideas though. With under three minutes to play and while on a power play, Jason Williams one-timed a shot from the left face off circle for his 8th of the year. Then with just over a minute remaining, captain Rick Nash was able to get free from behind the net and beat Luongo on a partial wrap-around for his team-leading 18th of the campaign.

On the opening shift of the final period, Luongo wound up losing his stick in a goal mouth scramble. Just as Jannik Hansen was attempting to get the stick back to his netminder, Mike Commodore wound up driving home a shot from the slot. It was his 4th of the season and it gave the Jackets their first lead of the night. And it wouldn't take long for them to build on the lead as less than a minute later, Raffi Torres was able to slid in a shot from beside the crease for just his 2nd of the year.

After that goal, Alain Vigneault called a time out in an attempt to settle his club down. A few minutes later, the Canucks were able to go to work on a power play and would capitalize. Henrik Sedin stepped into a shot from the right face off dot that found its way past Mason. Henrik's 8th of the year came at 4:37.

Then Vancouver got the equalizer they were hoping for a few minutes afterwards. Kevin Bieksa's point shot was sailing wide of the target, but it wound up bouncing off of Nash and into the net. Bieksa, who hadn't scored in 19 games, tallied his 6th of the seaosn at 6:07.

Neither club was able to score again in the third period or in overtime. For the seventh time this season, the Canucks took part in a shoot-out and for the sixth time this season, they weren't able to earn the extra point that was up for grabs. Kyle Wellwood and Sundin failed to convert on their opportunities while Williams and Nash scored on theirs. It gave the Blue Jackets their 8th win in their last 11 games, while it saw the Canucks winless streak on home ice stretch to seven straight games.

The Canucks did out-shot Columbus 30-28 in this game. Vancouver finished the night going 1-for-4 on the power play while the Blue Jackets went 1-for-2.

Now with an overall record of 22-19-6, the Canucks will travel to San Jose to play their Sharks for their last game prior to the All Star break. Game time Tuesday night at HP Pavillion is 7:30pm PST.

Canucks/Blue Jackets Game Day

The Vancouver Canucks look to snap out of their current six-game home ice winless streak tonight as they entertain the Columbus Blue Jackets. This will be the first meeting of the season between the two clubs at GM Place. In their two previous meetings at the Nationwide Arena, the Jackets came out on top (4-2 Oct. 23 and 3-2 Dec. 1).

The Canucks (22-19-5) are playing their 3000th NHL game this evening and will make a couple of changes to their line-up. Sami Salo will be a game-time decision as to whether or not he returns to the Vancouver line-up. He's missed the last 14 games after recovering from a fractured rib injury. Mason Raymond will likely be a healthy scratch in this game as Kyle Wellwood returns to the line-up after watching Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes from the press box.

In the current four game losing streak, the Canucks are a combined 1-for-13 on the power play. In that same stretch, the club has allowed five power play goals against on 15 penalty kills.

The Blue Jackets (21-19-4) have won seven of their past ten games. They've been without the services of their leading scorer Rick Nash (17g,22a) for the last four games as he's been nursing a knee injury. However he's been taken off the injured list and could return to the line-up tonight. Veteran forward Manny Malhotra is riding a four-game point scoring streak (1g,4a).

The big story surrounding the Jackets comes in net as 20 year-old rookie Steve Mason continues his push to be a Calder Trophy candidate. He leads the NHL in goals against average (1.61) and shut outs (6). He'll have a new back-up tonight as Wade Dubielewicz makes his first appearance in a Blue Jackets uniform after being acquired off waivers yesterday from the New York Islanders.

Here are the expected line-ups for the Canucks and Blue Jackets

D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Pyatt
Hansen - Sundin - Demitra
Burrows - Kesler - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Wellwood

Mitchell - Bieksa
O'Brien - Edler
Ohlund - Salo
(gametime decision)
If Salo's out, I think they'll go with Davison



20 Kristian Huselius - 27 Manny Malhotra - 11 Craig MacDonald/61 Rick Nash
33 Fredrik Modin - 18 R.J. Umberger - 93 Jakub Voracek
21 Alexandre Picard - 19 Michael Peca - 15 Derek Dorsett
14 Raffi Torres - 29 Jason Williams - 40 Jared Boll

22 Mike Commodore - 8 Jan Hejda
51 Fedor Tyutin - 3 Marc Methot
10 Kris Russell - 55 Ole-Kristian Tollefsen

Steve Mason
Wade Dubielewicz

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Canucks Fall To Coyotes In Luongo's Return

It wasn't the ideal way the Canucks #1 goaltender was hoping to come back into the line-up. After Roberto Luongo missed the last seven weeks with a groin injury, the team in front of him didn't do him any favours as the Canucks dropped a 4-1 decision to the visiting Phoenix Coyotes.

The Canucks found themselves down by a pair after the opening period, one that saw them play very lack-luster in their own zone. Both goals came courtesy of Joaquim Lindstrom, who now has seven goals on the season. His first of the night came on the first shot Luongo faced, beating the Vancouver captain through the pads 65 seconds into the action. Then on the Coyotes first power play of the night, Lindstrom was left all alone in front after a mis-read by the Canucks defence at 13:16.

Phoenix didn't let down in the middle frame and were rewarded for their efforts with two more tallies. Keith Yandle scored on a long-range shot through traffic for his 2nd of the season at 2:22. That would then be followed up by Peter Mueller's 10th goal of the season on the power play at 8:34.

The shut-out bid of Ilya Bryzgalov would eventually be broken past the midway point of the third period. Daniel Sedin's attempted pass to the front of the net for Henrik Sedin wound up taking a deflection off a Coyotes skate. For Daniel it was his team-leading 22nd goal of the campaign and it came unassisted at 11:02.

Time couldn't seem to tick down off the clock fast enough for the remainder of the game as the Canucks wound up dropping their fourth game in a row and have now gone winless in their last six straight on home ice.

Vancouver and Phoenix were tied on the shot clock 32-32 in this game. The Canucks went 0-for-2 on the power play while the Coyotes finished 2-for-3.

The Canucks and Coyotes each have identical records of 22-18-5 and are tied in the Western Conference standings with 49 points.

The Canucks will spend the next two days trying to sort things out through practice as they prepare for their final home game before the All Star break. Next Sunday, the Canucks entertain the Columbus Blue Jackets. Game time will be 5:00pm PST.

Canucks & Coyotes Game Day

The Canucks (22-18-5) and Coyotes (21-18-5) prepare to face each other for the 2nd time this season. In their previous meeting, the Canucks posted a 1-0 win at home Nov. 6. That night, Roberto Luongo made 28 saves for the Canucks while Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 31 shots in the loss. Both goalies will start tonight at GM Place.

Luongo makes his return after missing seven weeks with his groin injury. Since he left in the first period of the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 22, the Canucks went 10-12-3 (which includes the win against the Pens).

Kyle Wellwood will be a healthy scratch tonight as Jannik Hansen returns to the line-up after sitting out last Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Wellwood leads the team in power play goals with 8. Hansen has not seen any power play time this season for the Canucks. Wellwood has 19 points overall while Hansen has 18. Hansen is going to be a part of NHL history tonight as he will go head-to-head against fellow Danish-born forward Mikkel Boedker of Phoenix.

As for the Coyotes, they enter the night two points back of the Canucks. Their current financial situation isn't the only thing that's been struggling this year. They have the 26th best road record in the league (6-12-3) and they're 29th overall the power play (24-for-19=12.6%).

Here are the expected line-ups, with the Canucks lines from yesterday's practice, and the Coyotes line-up from their last game, which was a 6-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild.


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

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Davison
O'Brien - Edler



Todd Fedoruk - Olli Jokinen - Enver Lisin
Shane Doan - Steve Reinprecht - Joakim Lindstrom
Peter Mueller - Kyle Turris - Mikkel Boedker
Daniel Carcillo - Martin Hanzal - Daniel Winnik

Ed Jovanovski - Ken Klee
David Hale - Zbynek Michalek
Derek Morris - Keith Yandle

Ilya Bryzgalov
Mikael Tellqvist

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Poor Start vs Devils Leads to 5th Straight Home Loss

A poor effort in goal, a brutal start, and careless turnovers were all determining factors in the Canucks 5-3 loss at GM Place to the New Jersey Devils Tuesday evening. It was Vancouver's fifth game in a row on home ice where they saw the vistors skate away with two points.

This game could not have started worse for netminder Jason LaBarbera. After turning the puck over behind his own net, LaBarbera was caught out of position and that allowed Brian Rolston an easy opportunity to capitalize with his 8th of the year. David Clarkson and John Madden get the helpers on the first goal of the night just 65 seconds into the action.

It wasn't long after that the Devils built their lead. While on a two-on-one rush, Travis Zajac had his shot denied by the goalie. The rebound would be snapped home by Zach Parise for his team-leading 25th of the campaign. Team captain Jamie Langenbrunner picked up the other assist at 3:29 and that signalled the end of the night for LaBarbera. He wound up being replaced by Curtis Sanford after giving up two goals on six shots.

The Devils made it a 3-0 contest after another turnover behind the Canucks net. This time Sanford lost posession of the puck to Dainius Zubrus who wasted no time dishing in front to a wide open Brian Gionta. Patrik Elias notched his team-leading 30th assist on Gionta's 11th of the year at 11:07. Thankfully for the Canucks and their fans, that would be the last goal of the period, one that saw New Jersey out-shoot the opposition 12-4.

The shut-out bid of Devils goalie Scott Clemmensen would eventually be broken past the midway point of the middle frame. Ryan Kesler's shot from long range would be denied, but the rebound would be pounced on by Alex Burrows. Willie Mitchell also helped out in seeing Burrows score his 10th of the season at 11:01.

Mitchell nearly got the Canucks to within a goal in the early part of the third period. However his long shot from the left point rattled off the far post. Shortly afterwards, the Devils made their way to the other end of the rink and restored their three-goal lead. A nice give-and-go would be finished off by Zajac. Langenbrunner and Parise each collect the assists on the 12th of the campaign for Zajac at 4:19.

The Canucks team could have easily folded the tent for the rest of the period but they didn't and in fact were able to make things interesting in the final eight minutes. Pavol Demitra, who's been stuck in a tough scoring slump to start the new year, deposited a rebound given up by Clemmensen. Mats Sundin and Shane O'Brien chipped in on the score sheet as Demitra tallied his 13th of the year exactly eight minutes after the Devils 4th goal.

Then exactly five minutes after Demitra scored, Steve Bernier got the home team to within one. Kesler forced a turnover low in the Devils zone and saw the puck come to Bernier in the left face off circle. He quickly spun around and beat the netminder with a shot through the pads. It was Bernier's 10th of the year and it got the sell-out crowd of 18,630 primed for a wild finish.

Sanford was able to get to the bench for the extra attacker and the Canucks did create some pressure in the New Jersey end. However Zubrus was able to seal the victory by finding the empty net. Elias picked up the lone assist on the 11th for Zubrus at 19:21.

Final shots on net did favour the Canucks 29-28. Power plays were not a factor on this night as Vancouver went 0-for-3 while the Devils went 0-for-1.

A couple of overall important records have continued to slip for the Canucks lately. Their overall home ice record now stands at 11-9-2. Compare that to their road record which stands at 11-9-3. As well, the club is now 5-12-1 when giving up the first goal of a game.

In the last three Canucks losses at home, the team has been very guilty of turning over the puck. By the official stats that are kept in the building, the Canucks have forced their opponents to turn the puck over just ten times. What's much more alarming though is the fact that in that same period, Vancouver has given the puck away a whopping 38 times.

The club will have a practice day at GM Place Wednesday to prepare for their next game on home ice on Thursday. It's expected goalie Roberto Luongo will return to the line-up that night as the Canucks will host the Phoenix Coyotes. And with just two points separating the two clubs in the Western Conference standings, you can bet it will be a very intense match-up. Game time will be 7:00pm PST.

Canucks & Devils Game Day

The Canucks (22-17-5) look to snap a four-game home ice winless streak tonight as they entertain the New Jersey Devils (24-15-3).

Taylor Pyatt will indeed return to the line-up after missing the last eight games with a broken foot. He'll start on a line with Mason Raymond and Mats Sundin.

Pavol Demitra, who has scored just two goals in his last 13 games, will start this game on a line with Ryan Johnson and Darcy Hordichuk.

Jannik Hansen will likely be the odd-man out of the line-up as far as the forwards are concerned tonight. Lawrence Nycholat is expected to draw back into the 6th defenceman spot in place of Rob Davison.

The Devils are coming off a 4-3 loss on the road to the Anaheim Ducks last Sunday. Zach Parise, who leads the team in points with 24g,25a is heading to the NHL All Star Game for the first time in his career. Patrik Elias, who is second overall in Devils scoring (19g,29a), has had 15 multiple-point performances this season.

Elias is now tied with Sundin and Jaromir Jagr for the NHL record of most overtime goals in a career. The three players have 15 lifetime. The Devils are 5-1 in games this season that are decided in overtime.

These two clubs met each other once last season. In New Jersey, the Canucks posted a 5-0 win Dec. 18/07. Henrik Sedin led the Canucks with three assists in the game while Roberto Luongo made 32 saves for the shut-out.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams heading into tonight's action:

D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Wellwood
Raymond - Sundin - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Demitra

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Nycholat
O'Brien - Edler



Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus - Brian Gionta
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Jamie Langenbrunner
Jay Pandolfo - Bobby Holik - Mike Rupp
Brian Rolston - John Madden - David Clarkson

Johnny Oduya - Paul Martin
Colin White - Mike Mottau
Bryce Salvador - Andy Greene

Scott Clemmensen
Kevin Weekes

Monday, January 12, 2009

Canucks Update from Monday Practice

Lots coming out of a hard, intense practice at GM Place today for the Canucks as they prepare to snap a four-game home ice winless streak tomorrow against the New Jersey Devils.

Roberto Luongo says he is as close to being "pain free" as possible and is feeling good after his first full practice with his teammates in weeks. He says at this point he is doubtful to play tomorrow, but it's looking very likely that he'll re-appear in the line-up at some point next week. No word obviously from today as to whether Luongo, Jason LaBarbera, or Curtis Sanford will suit up against the Devils.

Taylor Pyatt skated today after missing the last few weeks with a broken foot. In fact, he practiced on a line with Mats Sundin and Mason Raymond. He feels good to go and likely will draw into the line-up tomorrow.

Sami Salo also skated today as he continues to rehab his rib injury. He says he is feeling much better, but doesn't know when he'll be able to return to the line-up.

As mentioned off the top, this was one of the harder-run practices this team has had in a long time. Assistant Coach Rick Bowness was not his typical-self during the drills he was in charge of, as he ripped into the team on numerous occasions when they weren't executing things properly.

Alain Vigneault had many interesting things to say during his post-practice media gathering. Although he didn't really pop off, he did indicate that many of the players are showing signs of maybe getting "too comfortable" with what they've acheived to this point in the season. In particular he discussed the play of Pavol Demitra, who has only scored two goals in his last 13 games.

Although not a 100% healthy hockey club yet, there were 25 players in practice. Vigneault did confirm that they will not be making any changes in the next 24 hours when it comes to either having to place a player on waivers or send him down to the Manitoba Moose.

Here's how the line combos and defence pairings looked during their skate today:

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

Bieksa - Mitchell
O'Brien - Edler
Ohlund - Nycholat
Salo - Davison


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Canucks Doubled Up By Sharks Saturday

The Vancouver Canucks have found themselves winless in their last four straight games on home ice following a 4-2 defeat to the San Jose Sharks. This was a night that saw the game up for grabs in the final period, but the top team in the NHL proved why they're so strong in winning a game that's on the line.

The Sharks opened the scoring late in the first period while on a power play. Rob Blake attempted to pass the puck from the left face off circle to the top of the crease. However the puck wound up deflecting off the skate of Ryan Kesler and behind goalie Curtis Sanford. Ryane Clowe and Joe Thorton collect the assists on Blake's 7th of the year at 17:37.

Just before the period was over, the moment Canucks fans had been so anxiously awaiting for occured. On the man advantage, Kevin Bieksa's point shot would be denied by netminder Brain Boucher. The rebound came to a wide open Mats Sundin, who wasted no time snapping home his first goal as a Canuck. A couple of standing ovations took place heading into the intermission as Sundin's goal, also assisted by Henrik Sedin came with under eight seconds to go in the period.

Daniel Sedin nearly put the Canucks in the lead in the opening minute of the middle frame. After taking a great pass from Henrik, Daniel had Boucher beat but his chance trickled just wide of the net. A short time later, the Sharks restored their lead as Mike Grier stepped into a rolling puck at the top of the face off circle. His shot wound up taking a wicked curve in mid-air and fooled Sanford on the glove side. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Marcel Goc help Grier score his 9th of the season two minuets into the period.

Sundin nearly drew the Canucks level on a power play a few shifts afterwards, but his wrist shot low in the slot was robbed on a great glove save by Boucher. Eventually the Canucks made it a 2-2 tie on a nice set-up just as they had killed off a penalty. Shane O'Brien dished a great pass on the rush to the goal where Daniel made no mistake tapping it home. Henrik also hits the score sheet on Daniel's team-leading 21st of the campaign at 14:33.

In the final frame, the Sharks really clamped down defensively and didn't give Vancouver a sniff in the way of high-end scoring opportunities. At the other end of the rink, the Sharks worked hard to get some bounces to go their way. Dan Boyle's shot from the line wound up deflecting off the skate of Patrick Marleau. Thorton gets the other power play assist on Marleau's 22nd at 9:28. Then with under three minutes remaining, Marleau capitalized on a turnover behind the net by Alexander Edler. Thomas Plihal helps Marleau tally his team-leading 23rd at 17:37.

Final shots on net favoured the Sharks 27-26, which included a 3rd period margin of 10-2. The Canucks went 1-for-6 on the power play while the Sharks went 2-for-6. Vancouver has now allowed at least a power play goal against in the last five straight games.

Now with an overall record of 22-17-5, the Canucks have a couple of days off for rest in preparation for their next game at GM Place. Tuesday night, the Canucks will host the New Jersey Devils for the one and only time this season. Game time is 7:00pm PST.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Canucks & Sharks Game Day

The Vancouver Canucks have their work cut out for them tonight at GM Place as they take on the NHL-leading San Jose Sharks.

Curtis Sanford will get the start in goal for Vancouver after Jason LaBarbera made 30 saves in a 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues last night. Sanford has not been in game action since injuring his groin against the Philadelphia Flyers Dec. 30. He came on in relief in the Canucks previous meeting with San Jose, stopping all 16 shots he faced in a 5-0 win by the Sharks at HP Pavillion.

Rob Davison will draw back into the line-up on the Canucks defence taking the spot of Lawrence Nycholat. Otherwise the Canucks (22-16-5) will go with the same line-up as to what they had last night.

Last night was just Vancouver's 2nd regulation loss of the season when scoring four goals or more (13-2-1). Heading into tonight's action, the team is 4-2-1 when playing on zero days rest.

The Sharks (30-5-5) posted a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers last night. That came after a disappointing 5-2 loss two nights previous to the Calgary Flames. San Jose sports the third best road record in the league (11-5-3) and they are currently 5th best in the NHL in both the power play (22.6%) and penalty kill (85.6%).

This team is stacked offensively, as they feature nine players with 20-or-more points Joe Thorton leads the club in points (47) and assists (38) while Patrick Marleau leads the squad in goals (21) and has points in three straight games (3g,1a).

The only significant change for the Sharks tonight will be in goal as Brian Boucher will get the start instead of Evgeni Nabokov. Boucher might have the best numbers of any "back-up" in the league as he is 8-1-1 with a goals against average of 1.86.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams tonight:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Demitra
Raymond - Sundin - Bernier
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Johnson - Wellwood

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Davison
O'Brien - Edler



Patrick Marleau - Joe Thorton - Devin Setoguchi
Milan Michalek - Joe Pavalski - Ryane Clowe
Jonathan Cheechoo - Marcel Goc - Mike Grier
Alexi Semenov - Thomas Plihal - Brad Staubitz

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Rob Blake
Doug Murray - Christian Erhoff
Derek Joslin - Dan Boyle

Brian Boucher
Evgeni Nabokov

Canucks Slip Up Against Blues Friday

In what was without question their worst performance on home ice this season, the Canucks let a pair of valuable points slip away at GM Place. Despite having the game on even terms with just over two minutes to go in the game, the Canucks wound up dropping a 6-4 decision against the struggling St. Louis Blues.

Although the club did have a lack-luster start to the game, Vancouver did hold a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes. Jannik Hansen opened the scoring with a bullet of a snap shot from high in the slot that made its way over the shoulder of goalie Manny Legace and off the cross bar. Hansen, who had only scored one goal in his last 29 games, collected his 5th of the campaign. Willie Mitchell and Mattias Ohlund get the assists at 9:52.

David Backes got the Blues on the scoreboard late in the period by depositing a rebound given up by Jason LaBarbera. Backes tallied his 13th of the year at 16:44. The game wouldn't stay tied for long though as in the final minute, Mitchell was able to convert on a back-handed chance from the right face off circle. Mitchell, who hadn't scored in 25 games, picked up his 2nd of the season as Daniel and Henrik Sedin chipping in the helpers with 13 seconds left in the period.

The middle period, which has been the most offensive period of the year for the Canucks, was anything-but on this night. The Blues came out flying and had the home team on their heels. Vancouver turned the puck over numerous times and made them pay with two late goals. Rookie forward Patrik Berglund scored his 13th of the season with two minutes left on the clock and then Alex Steen tipped in a pass from veteran Keith Tkachuk for his 6th of the year with 61 seconds before the intermission.

Mitchell did give the home team a lift in the early part of the final period as his shot from long range deflected of a St. Louis d-man and behind Legace. Mitchell, posting his first career three-point effort of his career, netted his unassisted goal at 1:37.

Poor defensive coverage in the Canucks zone led to the Blues getting the lead back as T.J. Oshie slid home a rebound past LaBarbera at 14:17. Just over a minute after that, the visitors were dinged with a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Vancouver was able to get the equalizer as Daniel deflected home a point shot from Kevin Bieksa. Henrik collects the other helper on Daniel's team-leading 20th of the year at 15:47.

Mats Sundin, making his home debut in a Canucks jersey, wound up taking a slashing penalty with two and a half minutes left in the game. 20 seconds later, the Blues took the lead on the power play and never looked back. Brad Boyes snapped home a shot from the left face off circle for his 11th power play marker of the season. It was also his 19th of the year.

Before the Canucks had a chance to get LaBarbera to the bench for the extra attacker, the Blues got the insurance goal they needed as B.J. Crombeen notched his 9th of the campaign at 18:11 to cap off what turned out to be just the 7th road win of the season for the Blues.

The Canucks were badly out-shot in this game as St. Louis led that department 36-22. Vancouver wound up going 1-for-2 on the power play while the Blues finished the game 1-for-5.

Vancouver (22-16-5) won't have a lot of time to worry about their poor performance as the top team in the Western Conference comes to GM Place for the first time this season. The San Jose Sharks, who blanked the Canucks 5-0 on December 23 in California, will face the Canucks Saturday night. Game time is 7:00pm PST.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Canucks/Blues Game Day

It's the home debut for Mats Sundin tonight as the Vancouver Canucks take on the St. Louis Blues for their first of four head-to-head meetings this season.

The Canucks (22-15-5) are coming off a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night. The line that led the Canucks offense that night was Steve Bernier (2g,1a), Alex Burrows (1g,2a), and Ryan Kesler (2a). They will stay together as will the lines of the Sedin twins and Pavol Demitra along with the Sundin-Kyle Wellwood-Mason Raymond trio. Raymond today was named to the NHL's Young Stars Game.

Ryan Johnson returns to the line-up tonight after missing the last 20 games. He'll be in the middle on the fourth line for the Canucks with Darcy Hordichuk and Jannik Hansen. Hansen has returned to the club after a two-game stint with the Manitoba Moose in the AHL. In his most recent game in Winnipeg, Hansen had a goal and was a +2 in a 3-2 win over Hartford. He has scored only one goal in his previous 29 games with the Canucks.

Jason Jaffray has been placed on waivers and is expected to join the Moose on the weekend. Lawrence Nycholat is expected to draw into the Canucks defence tonight in place of Rob Davison.

The Blues (15-21-3) are coming off a five-day break following a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. St. Louis has only won three of the last 13 games and remain in last spot in the Central Division. They do feature the 6th best power play percentage in the NHL (22.4%) and have forwards Brad Boyes and Keith Tkachuk each with ten power play goals. Tkachuk is about to appear in his 5th NHL All-Star Game. They are still missing key forwards in Paul Kariya (hip) and Andy MacDonald (leg).

Last season, the Canucks went 3-1-0 against the Blues. Henrik Sedin (2g,3a), Taylor Pyatt (5a), and Daniel Sedin (1g,3a) led Vancouver while Boyes (4g,2a) and Kariya (1g,4a) led the Blues offense.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams tonight at GM Place:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Demitra
Raymond - Sundin - Wellwood
Burrows - Kesler - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Hansen

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Nycholat
O'Brien - Edler



Keith Tkachuk - T.J. Oshie - David Backes
David Perron - Patrik Berglund - Brad Boyes
Alex Steen - Jay McClement - B.J. Crombeen
Brad Winchester - Yan Stastny - Cam Janseen

Barret Jackman - Mike Weaver
Roman Polak - Jeff Woywitka
Carlo Colaiacovo - Tyson Strachan

Manny Legace
Chris Mason

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Canucks Double Up Oilers in Sundin's Debut

The Vancouver Canucks didn’t need to depend on Mats Sundin in his debut Wednesday night at Rexall Place. Instead, the line of Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, and Steve Bernier stole the show in helping pace the visiting squad to a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

The opening period was not one for the hi-lite reel as neither team was able to find the back of the net. Willie Mitchell looked to have gotten the Canucks on the score board just prior to the midway point of the frame. However, Alex Bolduc wound up colliding into goalie Dwayne Roloson, nullifying what could have been Mitchell’s 2nd goal of the season.

In the opening moments of the 2nd period, Mattias Ohlund threw a crunching hit along the boards against Erik Cole. Ohlund wound up being challenged by Sheldon Souray to a scrap, which the Oilers d-man had the upper-hand in.

Vancouver was able to open the scoring in the final six minutes of the middle session as Burrows snapped out of a long goal-scoring slump. Bernier found a loose puck behind the net and was able to get it into the slot for Burrows, who wasted no time one-timing a shot behind the Edmonton netminder. Kesler gets the other assist on the first goal in 13 games for Burrows. It proved to be his 9th of the year at 14:07.

It didn’t take long for the Oilers to respond with the equalizer they were hoping for. While on a power play, Souray let a shot go from the point that Jason LaBarbera stopped with his blocker. Andrew Cogliano misfired on his rebound chance, but Robert Nilsson was able to jab the puck across the goal line. Nilsson gets credit for his 6th of the campaign at 15:37.

Vancouver got back into the lead after a turnover by the Oilers at their own blue line. Burrows found Kesler in the right face off circle. His back-handed drop pass to the slot found Bernier trailing the play. He unleashed a bullet of a slap shot that rattled off the cross bar and in. Bernier, who had gone 13 straight with a goal, netted his 8th of the season at 17:20.

On the next shift, the Canucks padded their lead with the same line still on the ice. Burrows got a loose puck free behind Roloson and immediately found Bernier in the left face off circle. His shot beat the Oilers goalie down low. Despite the back of the net having been lifted off the ice, the posts stayed firmly in tact in their position and allowed Bernier to net his 9th of the year just 12 seconds after giving the Canucks a one-goal lead. That proved to be the game winner, making Bernier the 13th Canucks player to score a goal which helped the Canucks to collect two points for their efforts.

Cole made things interesting for the home team in the third period by re-directing a point shot home off that came courtesy of Steve Staios. Shawn Horcoff also gets on the score sheet as Cole tallied his 8th of the year at 8:48.

The Oilers pressed down the stretch and were able to get Roloson to the bench for the extra attacker. However, Daniel Sedin wound up picking off a pass from Souray at the Oilers blue line and found Pavol Demitra high in the slot. He blasted a slap shot into the empty net for his 12th of the season with just 35 seconds left in regulation.

Final shots on net did favour the Oilers 25-22. The Canucks finished the game going 0-for-4 on the power play while Edmonton went 1-for-4.

As for Sundin, he wasn’t a major factor in the out-come for the Canucks. He did officially log 15:02 minutes of ice time, which was what coach Alain Vigneault was hoping for heading into his debut. Sundin played on a line with Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond and even saw some time on the power play playing with the Sedin twins.

Now with an overall record of 22-15-5, Vancouver has 49 points on the season. That moves them eight points clear of the Oilers, who the Canucks are now 3-2-0 against in five match-ups this season.

Next up for the Canucks will be the struggling St. Louis Blues for their first of four meetings this season. Game time Friday night at GM Place is 7:00pm PST.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Canucks/Oilers Game Day Preview

Not a great turn out at the Canucks optional skate this morning as Vancouver prepares to take on the Edmonton Oilers. However Mats Sundin was one of the eight skaters taking part and he has confirmed (in front of a wild pack of reporters) that he will make his Canucks debut tonight at Rexall Place.

Sundin is expected to play on a line with Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond, both who took the morning skate off. If yesterday's practice was any indication, that line will also be the 2nd power play unit against Edmonton.

The Canucks (21-15-5) are 2-2-0 against the Oilers this season. Jannik Hansen has led all Canucks in head-to-head scoring against the Oilers with three goals and one assist. However he will be watching this game from Winnipeg.

The Oilers (19-16-3) are coming off back-to-back wins for the 2nd time this season, posting a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders and a 4-1 decision against the Dallas Stars. The Oilers are without their leading scorer as Ales Hemsky (10g,25a) who is with sidelined with concussion-like symptoms. Former Vancouver Giants forward Gilbert Brule is expected to play on the Oilers top line tonight with Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Demitra
Raymond - Sundin - Wellwood
Burrows - Kesler - Bolduc
Hordichuk - Jaffray - Bernier

Mitchell - Bieksa
O'Brien - Edler
Ohlund - Davison/Nycholat



Dustin Penner - Shawn Horcoff - Gilbert Brule
Robert Nilsson - Sam Gagner - Eric Cole
Ethan Moreau - Andrew Cogliano - Marc Pouliot
Jason Strudwick - Kyle Brodziak - Zach Stortini

Sheldon Souray - Tom Gilbert
Lubomir Visnovsky - Denis Grebeshkov
Steve Staios - Ladislav Smid

Dwayne Roloson
Mathieu Garon

Monday, January 5, 2009

Another Shoot Out Loss To Division Cellar Dweller

The Vancouver Canucks shoot-out woes continued on home ice Sunday night. For the fifth time this season, the Canucks were not able to collect the extra point in the show down. It was also the fifth time this season that Vancouver lost in a shoot-out to a team that occupies last spot in their respective division as the this time they fell 3-2 to the Dallas Stars.

This game really could not have started any better for the team playing it's first home game of 2009 at GM Place. Kyle Wellwood opened the scoring at 2:11 after re-directing a great pass to the top of the crease by Steve Bernier. For Wellwood, it was his 14th goal of the season.

The Stars had their chances to get on the scoreboard, but Jason LaBarbera came up with some good pad saves on the likes of Loui Eriksson and Mike Modano.

Vancouver was able to build their lead with less than five minutes to go in the period as Darcy Hordichuk snapped in a shot underneath netminder Marty Turco. Jason Jaffray and Alex Bolduc collect the helpers on Hordichuk's 4th of the campaign at 15:40.

Before the period was out, the Stars got a huge goal from their all-time leading scorer. James Neal fed a great pass on an odd-man rush to the slot for Modano, who drilled home his 13th of the season. Eriksson gets the other assist on the opening goal for the visitors with just ten seconds before the intermission break.

The first penalty call in this game occured at the 10:00 mark of the 2nd period, but the Canucks were unable to capitalize on their power play chance. A short time later, the Stars were able to work on a 5-on-3 power play after the Canucks were dinged with a too-many-men on the ice penalty and a careless roughing infraction against Ryan Kesler. A nice feed from Jere Lehtinen across the slot allowed a wide open Mike Ribeiro to bury his opportunity. Modano also hits the score sheet on Ribeiro's 7th of the season at 13:51.

The third period was dominated by the goalies. LaBarbera came up with a great save off of Steve Ott while the Stars worked a 2-on-1 rush. However that save did not come anywhere close to the hi-lite reel stop LaBarbera made off of Ribeiro. With a wide open net staring him in the face, Ribeiro thought he had a sure goal as his chance beside the left post was labelled for the net. But LaBarbera wound up sprawling across the crease to get his glove down to the goal-line and make one of the biggest saves of the year in the NHL.

Not to be out-done, Turco came up with some big stops of his own. The biggest came on a 2-on-1 rush for Vancouver where he stoned Mason Raymond at the top of the crease.

Neither team was able to score through the remainder of regulation or overtime, so the game would need to be decided in the shoot-out. Of their first three shooters, only Wellwood was able to score for the Canucks while Eriksson did the same for Dallas. Kesler converted his chance by Turco to put Vancouver in the lead. However LaBarbera, despite getting a piece of Modano's snap shot, wasn't able to get enough as the puck trickled across the goal line.

Alex Burrows failed to beat Turco and then Neal netted his chance past LaBarbera to hand the Canucks their fifth shoot-out loss of the year.

Final shots on net favoured Dallas 36-35. The Canucks wound up going 0-for-2 on the power play while the Stars went 1-for-3.

With the loss, the Canucks see their record now sit at 21-15-5. The club will be back on the ice Wednesday when they take on the Oilers in Edmonton. Game time is 6:00pm PST.

Following the game against the Stars, the Canucks announced forward Jannik Hansen and goalie Cory Schneider have been re-assigned to the Manitoba Moose. Hansen has appeared in 37 games with Vancouver this season, recording four goals and 13 assists. As for Schneider, he's heading back to the AHL after going 2-4-1 with the Canucks, posting a 3.38 goals against average. He returns to the Moose, where he has gone 10-1-0 with the Winnipeg club.

The reason for these moves comes as Mats Sundin gets closer to making his debut in a Vancouver uniform. He will travel to Edmonton, but has not yet decided if he'll dress at Rexall Place. Goalie Curtis Sanford has been taken off the Canucks injured reserved list after missing the last three games with a groin injury. He'll back-up LaBarbera in Edmonton.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Canucks/Stars Game Day Preview

For the first time this season, the Canucks will take on the Dallas Stars at GM Place. In four meetings last season, the Canucks went 2-1-1. Markus Naslund (4g,3a), Daniel Sedin (2g,2a), Brendan Morrison (1g,2a), and Matt Pettinger (1g,2a) led Vancouver in scoring while Mike Ribeiro (6a), Brenden Morrow (1g,3a) and Mike Modano (2g,1a) led the Stars.

The Canucks (21-15-4) will go with Jason LaBarbera in goal for his third straight start tonight. He stopped a total of 66 shots in his last two games in Nashville and Atlanta. Mattias Ohlund, who left the game against the Thrashers on Friday, is good to go tonight. Mats Sundin skated with the Canucks today and says he's getting closer to being ready to play. He says he wants to get at least one full practice with his teammates before he's ready to get into game action. Both Roberto Luongo and Curtis Sanford skated with goalie coach Ian Clark before this morning's practice as they continue to rehab their groin injuries.

Henrik Sedin is currently riding a four-game point scoring streak (3g,4a). He'll continue to centre the line of Daniel Sedin and Pavol Demitra. That line combined for eight points in their 4-3 shoot-out loss to the Thrashers. The only line-up changes that could take place could be Lawrence Nycholat coming in on defence for Rob Davison while Alex Bolduc might draw in on the fourth line for Mike Brown.

The Stars (16-16-5) did not have a morning skate. In fact, they had to spend the night in Edmonton last night as they had frozen mechanical problems with their plan and were unable to take off. Coming off a 4-1 loss to the Oilers, Dallas has allowed the second most goals against of any team in the Western Conference (127). They've also scored the second lowest power play percentage on the road of any team in the league (11.1%).

Stars d-man Darryl Sydor is scheduled to play his 1,200th career NHL game tonight.

Here are the expected line-ups for both clubs:

D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Demitra
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Jaffray - Bolduc

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Nycholat
O'Brien - Edler



James Neal - Mike Modano - Jere Lehtinen
Brian Sutherby - Brad Richards - Loui Eriksson
Steve Ott - Mike Ribeiro - Mark Parrish
Krystofer Barch - Toby Petersen - Chris Conner

Trevor Daley - Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman - Andrew Hutchinson
Darryl Sydor - Matt Niskanen

Marty Turco
Tobias Stephan

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Canucks Slip Up In Atlanta Friday

The good news from Friday night: the Vancouver Canucks came back from two one-goal deficits and earned a point on the road in a back-to-back scenario.

The bad news from Friday night: the Vancouver Canucks could not take away a possible two points from the struggling Atlanta Thrashers.

Despite a combined eight points from the Canucks top line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Pavol Demitra, Vancouver still suffered a 4-3 loss in a shoot-out at the Phillips Arena.

It didn’t take long for the crowd of just under 15,000 to get into the game as just six seconds into the game, Mike Brown had a lengthy scrap with Thrashers enforcer Eric Boulton. That created a pretty good buzz in the areana for what turned out to be a pretty entertaining game between two clubs that face each other only once all season.

The Thrashers opened the scoring while the Canucks worked on a power play. Niclas Havelid was able to clear the puck out of his own zone up the right wing for Joseph Crabb. After being able to beat Demitra to the puck, Crabb wound up wiring a shot from the top of the face off circle past goalie Jason LaBarbera. Marty Reasoner collects the other assist on the first short-handed goal of the year for Atlanta. It proved to be Crabb’s third of the campaign nine minutes into the game.

Less than a minute later, the Canucks were able to find themselves working a 5-on-3 power play and they made mistake. Kevin Bieksa’s point shot would be knocked down at the top of the crease by Daniel Sedin. The puck bounced free to a wide open Henrik Sedin, who had little trouble beating Atlanta goalie Kari Lehtonen. For Henrik, it was his first power play goal of the season and it extended his point scoring streak to four straight games. It also was his 6th of the season and it came at 10:26.

Henrik gave Vancouver the lead in the middle frame on a nice set-up from his brother. Demitra found Daniel behind the net and he wasted no time dishing the puck in front to Henrik. Just like that, the Canucks were up 2-1 on Henrik’s 7th at 7:14.

The Thrashers were able to get some life while working on a power play and eventually scored just as their man advantage expired. Jason Williams found Ilya Kovalchuk in the left face off circle and he immediately drilled home a snap shot past LaBarbera. Eric Christensen gets the other assist on the 13th of the year for Kovalchuk at 12:24.

Atlanta was able to get back into the lead early on in the third period while working on another man advantage. This time, Slava Kozlov was able to capitalize on a back-handed chance from low in the slot. Kovalchuk and Todd White help Kozlov score his first goal in seven games. It was also his 16th of the campaign and it had the home team up by a goal at 3:46.

The Canucks were able to generate some pressure in the latter half of the final period and were rewarded for their efforts courtesy of the top offensive line. Henrik’s long-range snap shot wound up being deflected home by Daniel. Demitra chips in the other assist on Daniel’s team-leading 19th of the year at 11:16.

Neither team was able to score again through the rest of regulation time or into overtime. The Thrashers had the better of the chances in OT, as Jason Williams was robbed on two fantastic opportunities by LaBarbera.

For the fifth time this season, the Canucks wound up having to solve a game in a shoot-out. Demitra capitalized on his first chance while Kozlov was the only of the first three Atlanta shooters to score. Alex Burrows had an opportunity to win it for Vancouver, but he couldn’t beat Lehtonen with his back-handed chance. Christensen scored on a beautiful move to put the Thrashers in the driver’s seat and that proved to be the clinching goal and Daniel Sedin failed to convert on his chance.

For the second straight night, the Canucks were tied with their opponents on the shot clock as both teams tied 38-38. Vancouver finished the night going 1-for-3 on the power play while Atlanta went 1-for-5. In their last four games, the Canucks have allowed one power play goal against in 14 short-handed situations.

The Canucks overall record in the shoot-out dropped to 1-4. They have lost twice in the showdown to the Colorado Avalanche. Their other two losses have come to the Thrashers and New York Islanders, both teams who currently sit in the basement of the NHL standings. Vancouver’s lone victory in a shoot-out came on Halloween when they needed 13 shooters to defeat the Ducks in Anaheim 7-6.

Now with an overall record of 21-15-4, the Canucks remain in second place in the Northwest Division with 46 points. They’ll hit the midway point of the season on Sunday night when they entertain the Dallas Stars for the first time this season. Game time at General Motors Place is 7:00pm PST.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Canucks/Thrashers Game Day Preview

The Canucks had an optional skate today at the Phillips Arena in preparation for their lone meeting of the season against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Jason LaBarbera is expected to get his second start in as many nights between the pipes. Fresh off a 31-save performance in his Canucks debut last night, LaBarbera was the 1st star in Vancouver's 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators.

Mike Brown will likely draw back into the line-up in place of Alex Bolduc. Otherwise the Canucks will likely go with the same line-up as last night, with Pavol Demitra likely playing alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

Vancouver has not allowed a power play goal against in the last three games. In that stretch, the Canucks are 9-for-9 on the penalty kill. In that same span, the club is 1-for-14 on the power play.

The Thrashers are expected to go with the same line-up as to what they iced in a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on New Year's Eve. Despite having nine players with 10-or-more points on the season, Atlanta is 12-21-5 on the season. They are dead last in the NHL in goals against (139) and on the penalty kill. Their one bright spot lately has been the play of forward Bryan Little, who has seven goals and one assist in his last five straight games. Their top-end scorers have been cold lately though as Ilya Kovalchuk has one goal in his last 11 games while Vyacheslav Kozlov has gone six straight without scoring.

These two clubs went once last season, with the Canucks skating away with a 2-1 win here in Atlanta. Alex Burrows and Daniel Sedin scored on a night which saw Vancouver go 1-for-4 on the power play and a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.

Here are the expected line-ups for both clubs entering tonight's game:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Demitra
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Jaffray - Brown

Mitchell - Bieksa
Ohlund - Davison
O'Brien - Edler



Ilya Kovalchuk - Erik Christensen - Jason Williams
Vyacheslav Kozlov - Todd White - Bryan Little
Joseph Crabb - Marty Reasoner - Colby Armstrong
Eric Boulton - Eric Perrin - Chris Thorburn

Zach Bogosian - Mathieu Schneider
Ron Hainsey - Boris Valabik
Niclas Havelid - Tobias Enstrom

Kari Lehtonen
Johan Hedberg

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Canucks Open '09 Will Solid Goaltending Effort

It was a great way to start off the New Year. It was also a great way for a goaltender to make his debut with his new team on the road. Jason LaBarbera turned aside 31 shots Thursday night to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators.

This was the first time the two clubs met since their game full of fireworks December 9 in Music City. Jordin Tootoo, who didn't take part in that game due to injury, was determined to start some fireworks of his own on this night as he pursuaded Alex Burrows to drop the gloves 22 seconds into the game. Niether player was worse off for their efforts as the scrap got the crowd into it early.

Mattias Ohlund opened the scoring for the Canucks just as the team had seen a power play expire. After gathering a loose puck on the left boards, Ohlund snapped it through bodies and saw his shot beat goalie Pekka Rinne down low. Alexander Edler and Henrik Sedin help Ohlund score his third goal of the season. It also proved to be his first goal in 28 games and it came at 7:19.

LaBarbera did his part to keep the Canucks in the lead for the rest of the period, denying Antti Pihlstrom on two close range chances as well Preds captain Jason Arnott from the slot.

Rinne made a huge save in the early portion of the second period off a glorious chance by Henirk. Pavol Demitra broke into the Nashville zone on a 2-on-1 rush with Sedin. Demitra's saucer pass was perfect, but Henrik's shot would be denied on a brilliant stick save by Rinne.

That save seemed to spark the Predators, who immediately took control of the action for the rest of the period. Just as a Vancouver penalty expired, Radek Bonk dropped a back-handed pass between his legs to a wide open Rich Peverley. He made no mistake snapping home his 2nd goal of the season. Dan Hamhuis tallies the other assist on the tying goal at 7:53.

Early on in the third period, LaBarbera came up with his best save of the night. A point shot by Brad Zanon was able to squeek by the goalie, but as the puck was trickling towards the goal-line, LaBarbera got his paddle down to keep the puck from entering the net.

That save really picked up the emotion of the visitors, who were able to regain the lead with a little more than four mintues remaining. With a power play just having wrapped up, Willie Mitchell let a point shot go that wound up being deflected home in front of the net by Jason Jaffray. Steve Bernier gets the other assist on Jaffray's second goal of the year. It also proved to be his second game-winner of the campaign at 15:54.

Joel Ward had a golden opportunity to get the equalizer for Nashville with just over two minutes to go, but he couldn't beat LaBarbera to the back-hand. He did draw a penalty on the play, which gave the Preds a man advantage for much of the remainder of the game. However, despite getting the extra attacker on the ice to make it a 6-on-4 man advantage, the Predators couldn't score and the Canucks were able to skate away with their sixth straight win over their Nashville rivals.

Final shots on net were tied 32-32. The Canucks finished the night going 0-for-4 on the power play while they were successful in all three of their penalty kills.

Now with an overall record of 21-15-3, the Canucks get set to take on the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night. Game time at the Phillips Arena is 4:30pm PST.