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Posted On Thursday, 01.08.2015 / 5:06 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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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Posted On Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 5:54 PM

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

At the Rink: Islanders at Canucks

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks are coming off a win against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, but that didn’t stop coach Willie Desjardins from shaking up his tops lines and goalie against the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

After six games on the fourth line, Alexandre Burrows will be reunited with Daniel and Henrik Sedin on the top unit for the first time this season. Leading goal scorer Radim Vrbata drops down to spark a struggling second line with Nick Bonino and Chris Higgins.

“We’re trying to find some balance in our lineup too,” Desjardins said, noting the 4-1 win against Detroit included two power-play goals and two into an empty net. “We’ve got to get other lines going as well. It's not like we were dominating so we’re still looking for combinations.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.03.2015 / 4:41 PM

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

At the Rink: Red Wings at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks forward Zack Kassian returns to the lineup Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings, a franchise he grew up cheering for in nearby Windsor, Ontario. But Kassian is only concerned about impressing his own team right now.

Kassian has missed 14 games since breaking his pinky finger on Nov. 25, but was a healthy scratch for the last one. Canucks general manager Jim Benning admitted Friday to taking calls from other teams about Kassian, who was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at the 2012 NHL trade deadline for center Cody Hodgson.

“There’s a lot of talk. I’m not even playing and people are talking about me,” Kassian said. “I’m excited to just go out and play. Most importantly I want to come back and contribute any way I can to help the team win. I think I can be a big part of this team. I believe in it and if I have to make others believe I will do that.”

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Posted On Thursday, 01.01.2015 / 5:00 PM

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

At the Rink: Kings at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks have started to turn around a poor record against teams from California, but the reversal won't be complete until they finally solve the Los Angeles Kings.

Vancouver was 2-9-3 against the three California teams last season, a big reason they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

The Canucks already exceeded that point total against those teams this season at 3-1-2, including an overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks and a win over the San Jose Sharks on a road trip to start this week.

But the lone regulation loss was a 5-1 defeat in Los Angeles, and the Kings, who trail the Canucks by one point in the Pacific Division, have won five of the past six meetings.

"If you want to be in the playoffs now, especially with the new format, you have to beat those teams and they are three of the best teams in the NHL," forward Alexandre Burrows said. "You have to be .500 or better if you want to get in. We've done some good things, skated with the Sharks, beat Anaheim earlier in the year and now we have to beat these guys. They've had our number the last couple years."

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Posted On Monday, 12.22.2014 / 8:21 PM

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

Canucks forward Hansen won't play vs. Coyotes

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen will not play Monday against the Arizona Coyotes after briefly losing consciousness and collapsing on the bench Saturday in a game against the Calgary Flames.

After participating in the morning skate Monday, Hansen said he had been cleared to play against the Coyotes, but the Canucks later said he will not be permitted to play.

"In the process of reviewing Hansen's test results the Vancouver Canucks in consultation with specialists have determined that further evaluation is required before he is cleared to play," the Canucks said in a statement. "Despite all tests being reported as normal, additional tests were ordered in the best interests of Hansen's health and safety."


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Posted On Monday, 12.22.2014 / 4:53 PM

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

At the Rink: Coyotes at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Jannik Hansen doesn't remember passing out on the Vancouver Canucks bench Saturday, but he never thought he was unconscious long enough to believe something seriously was wrong.

Despite spending Saturday night in a hospital, Hansen confirmed he will play against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday after tests confirmed his scary collapse had nothing to with heart problems.

"I kind of lost my wind," Hansen said. "It happens from time to time. But I wasn't able to catch it quick enough and I took a quick nap on the bench. It's scary in the moment but I had an idea it wasn't anything with the heart. It was basically I couldn't breathe so I wasn't too worried. But you go through all the precautions to get checked and double-checked and triple-checked and get the OK sign."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.20.2014 / 4:10 PM

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

At the Rink: Flames at Canucks

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames will try to end long slumps that are threatening to derail surprising starts when they face each other at Rogers Arena on Saturday.

Calgary’s 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday was its seventh straight in regulation, a skid that has dropped the Flames outside the Western Conference cutoff for the Stanley Cup Playoffs following an impressive, but unexpected, 17-8-2 start to the season.

Vancouver is winless in five games and facing a similar drop after an equally unforeseen 18-7-1 start and is two points ahead of the ninth-place Flames, though Calgary has played three more games.

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 5:25 PM

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

At the Rink: Stars at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff wasn't surprised to hear the Vancouver Canucks talking about tightening their defense after a 5-1 loss against the New York Rangers on Saturday.

Ruff has expressed similar concerns this season about his Stars, who enter play Wednesday allowing 3.48 goals per game, most in the League, as they start a three-game road trip in Vancouver on Wednesday.

"I watched their last game so I think that's an obvious statement," Ruff said of the Canucks. "When you see 2-on-1s, 3-on-1s and sometimes when you get caught being too aggressive and you don't have the cover, it can look pretty bad. But I think they have made a living so far being really aggressive and having their [defensemen] involved."

The focus in Vancouver now is finding a better balance between that attacking style without also giving up the odd-man rushes that have plagued them during a season-worst four-game losing streak (0-3-1).

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Posted On Saturday, 12.13.2014 / 3:57 PM

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

At the Rink: Rangers at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins has been praised for his consistency throughout his first two months on the job, sticking with his lineup through slumps and mistakes.

So it’s probably not a coincidence his first significant line juggling comes after the first three-game losing streak of the season.

Coming off a 0-2-1 finish to a seven-game road trip, Desjardins is dropping Radim Vrbata from the top line with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, and moving him down to a struggling second line centered by Nick Bonino. Rather than re-uniting Alexandre Burrows with the Sedins, however, Desjardins is moving Jannik Hansen up from the fourth line to the first, and dropping Chris Higgins from the second to fourth.

With Shawn Matthias playing on the third line after missing the past two games with a head injury, all four Vancouver lines will have a new look against the New York Rangers on Saturday night.

"I don’t think it's shocking," captain Henrik Sedin said. "I wouldn't call it a wake-up call either. I don’t think the changes are major. It’s moving one player off each line pretty much and that’s no problem. It’s when you see changes after one period in each and every game and you never get any familiarity with guys, that’s when it's tough."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.25.2014 / 5:15 PM

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

At the Rink: Devils at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The timing of the announcement wasn't lost on 19-year-old Vancouver Canucks rookie center Bo Horvat.

As Horvat prepared to play his ninth NHL game against the goaltender he was traded for, Canucks coach Willie Desjardins told the team Horvat was staying for the season.

Desjardins came into the locker room before the morning skate and showed one bad clip featuring Horvat followed by a good one, and then asked Horvat which player he was going to be.

"I thankfully said the right one and he said, 'Well welcome to the NHL,'" Horvat said. "It was a special moment, something I'll never forget."

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Quote of the Day

I don't have a crystal ball. Predicting is a real complicated thing. If we stay healthy, have enough depth and get the good goaltending we think we're going to have, you can go all the way. But a lot of things have to happen. There's going to be a lot of teams that think the same thing. Everyone made deals. We're all are optimistic about where we'll end up.

— Rangers general manager Glen Sather after being asked if he's constructed a team that can win the Stanley Cup before their 4-1 win against the Predators on Monday
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