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Posted On Friday, 02.15.2013 / 4:16 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Jagr celebrates birthday where NHL career started

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Jaromir Jagr celebrated his 41st birthday Friday in the city where his NHL career started, giving the Dallas Stars forward a chance to reflect on being drafted almost 23 years ago.

The Pittsburgh Penguins picked Jagr with the fifth choice of the 1990 NHL Draft, which was held at BC Place, across the street from where he will play against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.

A lot has changed since then, including the building the Canucks play in, as well as five players who will play with and against him Friday who hadn't been born when Jagr was drafted.

Evidently Jagr's opinion of himself has changed too.

"Back then I never thought I am going to play NHL," he said. "I didn't think I am good enough to play NHL and I was wondering why the Pittsburgh Penguins draft me. I was very thin, not very strong."

Posted On Friday, 02.15.2013 / 2:48 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Coin flip puts Kesler in Canucks' lineup

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- This time Ryan Kesler left no doubt he was back.

After being evasive and playing coy following his first full practice the day before, the Vancouver Canucks' Selke Trophy-winning center declared himself ready to return Friday night against the visiting Dallas Stars. Kesler hasn't played in almost 10 months after undergoing shoulder surgery in May then needing a wrist operation in June.

"I flipped AV's coin out there on the ice and it said I was, so I think I'll be playing," Kelser said, joking in reference to coach Alain Vigneault's ongoing gag about using a coin to choose his starting goalie. "It's been a long road, so for it to finally be here is pretty exciting."

Posted On Thursday, 02.14.2013 / 7:21 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Schneider gets his turn in Canucks' net

Cory Schneider isn't worried about figuring out the goaltending decisions of Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, who continues to joke about picking his starter each game based on a coin flip.

Schneider is focused only on the fact the coin flip landed on him for Friday's game against the visiting Dallas Stars.

He expects there will be a lot more flip-flopping as the upcoming schedule gets busier.

"I don't think there's much to figure out," Schneider said of getting the start after Roberto Luongo made 25 saves in a 2-1 win against Minnesota on Tuesday. "We are going to be pretty busy here the next six weeks, so I don't think it's going to be a lot of rhyme or reason. It's just going to be playing a guy who is playing well and try to share the load so if the team is maybe tired the guy in net will be fresh and be the difference."

Both Luongo and Schneider have been just that throughout a six-game win streak.

Luongo won the first three amid a stretch of four straight starts before Schneider took over for back-to-back wins of his own, giving up just one goal each time. Luongo was back in goal against Minnesota, but will watch Schneider play against the Stars.

Statistically, Luongo is better overall with a .943 save percentage and 1.45 goals-against average that ranks first in the NHL. But after since an opening-night face plant as the new would-be No.1 that saw him pulled allowing after five goals on 14 shots, Schneider has been just as good, posting a .946 save percentage while winning four of five starts.

All of which makes Vigneault's coin flip a no-lose bet.

Posted On Thursday, 02.14.2013 / 7:17 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Canucks lose Malhotra for season, career in jeopardy

VANCOUVER – Celebration over Ryan Kesler's impending return the lineup was muted in the Vancouver Canucks locker room Thursday as players learned they had lost veteran Manny Malhotra for the season.

About the same time Kesler was creating a buzz with a regular shift in practice, the team issued a press release announcing Malhotra had been placed on injured reserve for the rest of the season. The popular 32-year-old center's season – and possibly his career – is over because of a vision-threatening eye injury suffered almost two years ago.

Manny Malhotra
Center - VAN
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 2 | +/-: -3
Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said he made the decision out of concerns for Malhotra's health, and that Malhotra was risking further injury by continuing to play with limited vision in his left eye.

"I wouldn't put anybody in a position where if I was uncomfortable with their ability to protect themselves or ability to function out on the ice and be at a higher risk than normal," Gillis said. "Particularly in today's game, where it is so fast, the players are so big that even someone not trying to hurt him or injure him, an innocent collision could be really damaging if you don't know or you are unaware."

Posted On Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 5:57 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Henrik Sedin on verge of Canucks' scoring record

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Pretty soon the only place Henrik Sedin will still be looking up to Markus Naslund is in the rafters of Rogers Arena, where his fellow Swede’s retired No. 19 Vancouver Canucks jersey hangs.

Sedin is one point behind Naslund’s franchise record of 756 heading into Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, and will soon pass the player who preceded him -- first on the outdoor rinks of their hometown and later as captain of the Canucks. But along with Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl, the other players whose names hang from the Rogers Arena rafters but already sit below him on the scoring list, Sedin will continue to look up to Naslund in other ways.

“It’s a great honor,” Sedin said. “Markus is a guy from our hometown, and Trevor, what he meant for us our first couple of years, and a guy like Stan [now a Canucks senior adviser] is around the team on a weekly basis, so it's very nice to be up there with those guys.”

Posted On Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 5:18 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Canucks, Wild

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- It hasn’t easy to find a goaltending story to trump the Vancouver Canucks’ ongoing saga with Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, but the Minnesota Wild had one Tuesday.

News that symptoms related to multiple sclerosis will prevent Josh Harding from making a start on the second half of back-to-back games not only means a likely first NHL game for 22-year-old American Hockey League call up Darcy Kuemper, but could create a crunch on the 23-man roster should the Wild activate defenseman Jared Spurgeon from the injured list.

At the other end, it will be Luongo back in goal for the Canucks after watching Schneider win the past two.

Posted On Tuesday, 02.12.2013 / 4:34 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Harding: '100 percent' he'll return from MS setback

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Symptoms related to multiple sclerosis will prevent Josh Harding from playing against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, but the Minnesota Wild goaltender insists the disease will not prevent him from continuing to stop pucks in the NHL.

Harding said he is "100 percent" confident he could keep playing through the unpredictable, incurable disease that can affect vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility. He was diagnosed with the illness in October.

"Coming into this I knew it wasn't going to be the most perfect road," he said after skating Tuesday. "There are going to be some bumps in the road and some challenges and I know things are going to get better and that's a positive point."

Posted On Saturday, 02.09.2013 / 5:47 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Calgary's Street to debut in hometown Vancouver

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- If you handed Ben Street a team of Hollywood’s top screenwriters, he still can’t imagine coming up with a better script for his NHL debut than what will play out Saturday night.

Called up from the American Hockey League by the Calgary Flames the day before, Street will play his first NHL game in his hometown against the Vancouver Canucks, in front of family, friends and his fiancé, while the rest of the Street clan watches into the wee hours back in Newfoundland on "Hockey Night in Canada."

It’s hard to imagine a better way to celebrate Hockey Day in Canada.

"I don’t know what else I would add into the story," Street said after Saturday’s morning skate. "On 'Hockey Night in Canada' where you grew up, I don’t think there’s anything I can add to it at this point."

Posted On Saturday, 02.09.2013 / 4:51 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Flames getting used to new system, despite injuries

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Calgary Flames are a lot better equipped to handle a recent run of injuries to key players than they would have been when they visited the Vancouver Canucks two-and-a-half weeks ago.

Back then, everyone was still trying to figure out where to go in the new system installed by new coach Bob Hartley.

Now the incumbents can at least tell the new guys where to go.

"Now there are 17 guys that know the system, and we bring in new guys and they can just follow the lead and other guys will be able to even tell them on the ice, 'Hey, this is where you are supposed to be,'" veteran Alex Tanguay said. "A couple weeks ago we had a couple guys on each line that didn’t know where they should be."

Posted On Saturday, 02.09.2013 / 3:26 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Schneider gets back-to-back starts for Canucks

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vancouver Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider will get a chance to build a little momentum Saturday night when he makes his second-straight start playing host to the Calgary Flames.

Schneider, who came into the season as the new No. 1 after taking over from Roberto Luongo early in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, watched Luongo start – and excel in – four straight games before making 22 saves Thursday in a 4-1 win at the Minnesota Wild.

"I've always liked to get in a rhythm and tonight is another opportunity to do that," said Schneider, who went 10 days between starts. "I don't change anything regardless of who I am playing, or how long it's been, it all stays the same. I think that's part of staying consistent is doing the same things over and over again that give you success. If you get out of those patterns you see differences in your game."

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