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Posted On Monday, 02.16.2015 / 3:56 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Wild at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks will have to try and hold off the hard-charging Minnesota Wild and hold onto a Stanley Cup Playoff spot without their best defenseman.

Alexander Edler won't play against the Wild on Monday after leaving in the second period of a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday with an upper-body injury.

Coach Willie Desjardins said Edler was being re-evaluated, so he didn't have an update on how long he might be out. But he didn't expect Edler to play against the Wild, who can catch the Canucks and move into a Stanley Cup Playoff berth with a regulation win in Vancouver and a loss by the Calgary Flames.

Ending Minnesota's 8-0-1 run since the All-Star break, which includes two wins already this month against the Canucks, won't be easy without Edler. The 6-foot-3 Swede often plays against opponents' best forwards on the top pairing, and is on the No. 1 power-play and penalty-kill units. He leads the defense with 17 points and the team in ice time at 24:10, almost three minutes more than anyone else.

"He's the full package and he plays a lot of important minutes for us," said Dan Hamhuis, who replaces Edler on a top pair with Christopher Tanev. "Alex is a huge part of the defense. He's logged the most minutes of anyone. He plays in all situations. He's having a great year. It's going to be a big hole, but we have been used to that this year."

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Posted On Friday, 02.13.2015 / 4:26 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Bruins at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins say they are too worried about getting back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season to focus on a bitter rivalry that dates back to their meeting in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

Boston won Game 7 in Vancouver to clinch the Stanley Cup, and the three regular-season games since have all been entertaining and eventful. But with the Bruins currently in the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and the Canucks playoff cushion down to two points in the Western Conference, players are more focused on a win now.

"That kind of revenge thing is out the window as far as the Final goes and both teams are just focused on staying in that playoff race," said Bruins forward Milan Lucic, who is from Vancouver and played junior hockey locally. "Both teams are in the same position as far as playoff spots go, and that puts a lot more emphasis on how important this game is."

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Posted On Saturday, 02.07.2015 / 4:20 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Penguins at Canucks

VANCOUVERVancouver Canucks defenseman Adam Clendening is looking forward to his first game against Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

How close the rookie actually gets to Penguins stars could depend on the health of top-pairing defenseman Christopher Tanev.

"It will be fun, grew up watching [Crosby] and Malkin," Clendening said. "I don’t know how much I will see of those guys. That’s usually [Alexander Edler] and Tanev’s job, but if I see them, great, I am up for the challenge. And if not, I get a front-row seat to it."

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Posted On Thursday, 02.05.2015 / 4:47 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sharks at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks had so many defensemen Saturday that coach Willie Desjardins held a meeting with them to make sure each one knew they were still an important part of the team.

Five days later, the Canucks are down the minimum six on defense.

Top-pairing defenseman Christopher Tanev will not play against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday because of an undisclosed injury and fellow right-shot defenseman Frank Corrado will miss a second game with what was originally described as an illness. That means Yannick Weber, who was relegated to the press box when the Canucks acquired Adam Clendening from the Chicago Blackhawks last week, will be on the top pair for an important game against the Sharks.

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.03.2015 / 4:58 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Jets at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Something has to give when the slumping Winnipeg Jets play the struggling Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, with each trying to steady their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoff race.

Vancouver can't score and the Jets can't defend lately, leaving them three points apart in the final two Western Conference wild-card spots with the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings three points behind the Canucks and six back of Winnipeg.

"A little bit similar to us," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said of the Jets. "It seems like they are finding ways that just different little things are getting them every night, but they are a real good hockey team."

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Posted On Sunday, 02.01.2015 / 10:20 AM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Wild at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- New Vancouver Canucks defenseman Adam Clendening hasn't had time to unpack after being acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks late Thursday and traveling all day Friday. But he is ready to make his Canucks debut Sunday.

Clendening, who was traded for defenseman prospect Gustav Forsling, will play against the Minnesota Wild.

"I still haven't even unpacked a suitcase, so it's a bit of a whirlwind," Clendening said after practice Saturday. "But it's been fun."

Clendening is expected to start on the third pairing with Luca Sbisa, taking the place of Yannick Weber, who scored in a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. The 22-year-old defenseman will also see second-unit power play time with Dan Hamhuis.

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Posted On Friday, 01.30.2015 / 5:28 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- As if making his NHL debut on Friday wasn't nerve wracking enough for Vancouver Canucks forward Ronalds Kenins, the Latvian left wing is making it against his national team coach and a national hero.

Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan coached Kenins at the 2012 and 2013 World Championships, and the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons was a teammate at all three events, and something of a folk hero back in Latvia after the country helped get him to last weekend's NHL All-Star Game with 1,574,896 votes.

Kenins admitted playing against them added pressure.

"It's a little more nervous for me because I want to show them I can play in this level," said Kenins, adding it also made his debut a bigger deal back in Latvia. "Everybody got excited, they were calling and my phone was ringing all the time. They're expecting a great game so they are pretty excited I am playing against Girgensons and Ted Nolan."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 5:29 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Ducks at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- When the Vancouver Canucks played the Anaheim Ducks for the first time this season on Nov. 9, they were coming off a lopsided 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings the prior night.

Worried about that listless performance, Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa tried to set the tone by fighting Ducks forward Patrick Maroon right after the opening faceoff. Vancouver went on to defeat Anaheim 2-1 in a shootout.

Now, as the Canucks prepare to play the Ducks for the fourth time this season Tuesday, Vancouver is wondering where it will get that emotional spark without Bieksa, who had surgery to repair a broken hand during the All-Star break.

Bieksa is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.10.2015 / 5:17 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flames at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- There are many questions surrounding the lineups of the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames on Saturday, but little doubt about which team has the recent advantage.

The Canucks have won nine straight games against the Flames, including two this season, part of a 10-3-2 record within the Pacific Division. Calgary is 10-3-1 against the Pacific Division, but is 0-1-1 against the Canucks.

The Flames early season success may have caught some opponents off guard, but the Canucks are not one of them.

"We realize what kind of game they play and the intensity they bring to the games," said Vancouver forward Chris Higgins, who returns after missing one game with the flu. "They have a lot of guys that are having pretty good years for them, especially on the back end, so we have been prepared for them and we will be again tonight."

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Posted On Thursday, 01.08.2015 / 5:06 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Panthers at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo still isn't sure how the Vancouver Canucks crowd will welcome him back Thursday, but don't be surprised if he gets caught up in the first period tribute the Canucks have planned for their former star.

Luongo will be playing his first game in Vancouver since being traded to Panthers on March 4 after nearly eight seasons with the Canucks, where Luongo set franchise records for wins (233) and shutouts (65).

"It's going to be emotional," Luongo said of the tribute. "I'm flattered they would do that. I told them it wasn't necessary but I am happy there was some sort of recognition. It's nice for both sides I think.

"All in all it was a great run," Luongo said.

Luongo ranks in the top 10 in the NHL with a .924 save percentage and a 2.28 goals-against average, but said the drama of the final two years in Vancouver made him a better goalie and person.

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We're buyers. We're committed to winning. That's what [owner Vinnie Viola] has said all along and what we've said all along. We want to win. We want to win a championship. We're putting the pieces together, step by step, and we're hopeful that Jaromir can lead these young guys to the promised land. It's a win-win for us.

— Panthers GM Dale Tallon on Jaromir Jagr, who he traded for from the Devils on Thursday
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