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Posted On Thursday, 04.16.2015 / 7:13 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Flames series blog

Canucks won't change system despite Game 1 loss

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks got back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs by balancing their minutes and rolling four lines. They don't plan to change that system against the Calgary Flames after losing Game 1 in the Western Conference First Round on Wednesday, even if it keeps their top players on the bench in the third period.

Top-line forwards Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin each played less than five minutes in a third period that saw the Flames turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win. Daniel Sedin was eighth in regular-season scoring with 76 points, but only two Canucks forwards played less in the third.

When Flames defenseman Kris Russell scored the winning goal with 29.6 seconds left in regulation, it came against the Canucks' third defensive pairing and a line centered by 20-year-old rookie Bo Horvat that was caught out on the ice for more than a minute.

That left first-year coach Willie Desjardins answering lots of questions about his player deployment after the Canucks practiced Thursday.


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.15.2015 / 5:44 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Flames series blog

Monahan, young Flames excited to start playoffs

VANCOUVER -- Calgary Flames No. 1 center Sean Monahan is excited to compete in his first Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday, but after missing the regular season finale Saturday and a practice Monday to rest, the 20-year-old expects a good test in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET; CBC, USA, TVA).

"I think I feel ready and well rested so I think I am fresh," Monahan, who also left practice early Tuesday, said after the morning skate Wednesday. "I felt great and right now the focus is on Game 1."

Vancouver's focus will be on Monahan, who combined with rookie Johnny Gaudreau and veteran Jiri Hudler, form one of the hottest lines in the NHL since early February. Calgary's top line has 41 goals and 92 points in 31 games, and led the League in scoring in March.

"It's the playoffs, you don't want to make it easy on them," Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa said. "Any chance you get to be hard on a guy, be physical, you have to do it but I don't think you have to take out individuals. You have to be hard on everyone."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.11.2015 / 4:57 PM

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

At the Rink: Oilers at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- For Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller it’s hard to imagine a better team to play against in his return from a knee injury than the Edmonton Oilers (10 p.m. ET; CBC).

Miller’s start against Edmonton on Saturday will be his first in almost seven weeks, and he has never lost to the Oilers in his career, going 11-0-0 with a .930 save percentage

It might be an important game for the Canucks.

If the Calgary Flames beat the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon, Vancouver needs at least one point against the Oilers to maintain home-ice advantage in the Western Conference First Round against Calgary. Coach Willie Desjardins said he wants two goalies ready for the playoffs so it’s just as important for Miller to get into a game.

"It would be tough on Ryan if he ended up playing in the playoffs without having played in so long," Desjardins said after a 5-0 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. Vancouver did not skate Friday or Saturday.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.09.2015 / 5:07 PM

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

At the Rink: Coyotes at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller is ready to return after missing more than six weeks with a knee injury, but he won’t start against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; FS-A, SNP, SNV).

Miller will dress as the backup for Eddie Lack against the Coyotes, and is expected to make his first start since Feb. 22 when the Canucks finish the regular season against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

“We can’t have him on the bench if he is not an option,” coach Willie Desjardins said. “Obviously when you haven’t played for quite a while it would be nice to get a game in and play so that’s something we’d like to happen and get a look at him. He played really well for us before he got hurt and we’d like to get him going.”

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Posted On Monday, 04.06.2015 / 5:03 PM

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

At the Rink: Kings at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty isn't focused on simply making it back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Doughty wants home-ice advantage when they open, and he knows that means taking it away from the Vancouver Canucks on Monday (10 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, PRIME, SNP).

Los Angeles enters Monday in the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference but is fourth in the Pacific Division, three points behind second-place Vancouver. They can pass the Calgary Flames and move within one point of Vancouver with a regulation win Monday. With one more game remaining than the Canucks and Flames, the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings also would control their own fate.

"We want to get second place in the division, and right now they have it," Doughty said of the Canucks. "Of course you want home ice and it's very much in reaching distance. We just have to win all our games, starting with this one."

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Posted On Saturday, 03.28.2015 / 5:03 PM

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

At the Rink: Stars at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks coach Willie Desjardins hopes his players learned a tough lesson against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche came into Vancouver Thursday after a loss the night before against the Edmonton Oilers that damaged their Stanley Cup Playoff hopes and dominated the Canucks for the first two periods of a 4-1 victory.

The Dallas Stars arrived overnight after a 4-0 loss in Edmonton on Friday night that left them eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. Dallas and Winnipeg each have seven games remaining.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.26.2015 / 4:36 PM

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

At the Rink: Avalanche at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Vancouver Millionaires winning the 1915 Stanley Cup by wearing vintage jerseys and maroon-and-tan equipment against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; ALT, SNP).

The Canucks' focus, however, is their current Stanley Cup Playoff push, and they are happy forward Radim Vrbata is a part of it.

Vancouver first targeted Jarome Iginla as a free agent last summer, but after he signed a three-year, $16-million contract with Colorado, the Canucks signed Vrbata for two years and $10 million instead.

It's worked out well for each team.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.24.2015 / 4:02 PM

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

At the Rink: Jets at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec is one of the hottest goaltenders in the NHL, but he won't play in a key game against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.

Pavelec extended his win streak to five games with 33 saves in a 4-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, but will watch Michael Hutchinson try to backstop the Jets to a franchise record-tying sixth straight win in Vancouver.

"We will run a hot goalie for sure," coach Paul Maurice said. "We're just not going to run him into the ground to do it."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 8:44 PM

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

At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray won't play against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday because of a lower-body injury he sustained on a hit against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

"He got a little banged up last night, so we're keeping him out, just more of a precaution than anything else," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "We'll see how it goes tomorrow, and then possibly back in the lineup on Saturday."

Murray has two assists in 10 games after missing most of the season because of injuries. A knee injury cost him seven games to start the season, another in early November kept him out 36 games, and an ankle sprain kept him out 16 games early February through March 12.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 4:05 PM

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

At the Rink: Flyers at Canucks

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks are finally healthy again, which means coach Willie Desjardins has some tough roster decisions against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Desjardins was spared from a tough call by giving forward Alexandre Burrows, who has been nursing a suspected groin injury, an extra day off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. With Burrows now ready to return, someone has to come out of the lineup.

“It makes it difficult but it’s all good,” Desjardins said.

The coach hinted he might use the newfound depth to rest veterans down the stretch, even with the Canucks just two points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, who are currently out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“It's not like we’re ever totally healthy at this time of year,” Desjardins said. “Nobody is. We have a couple things still.”

"If everyone can play, it won’t be easy choosing who comes out."

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He's a winner. We want winners here, and he's a proven winner. He's won two Stanley Cups. He's 22 years old and been a big part of it. He's got all the right tools. He's got size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) and strength. He's exactly what we were looking for. He's going to be a big piece of our team for many, many years to come.

— Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen on Brandon Saad, who he acquired in a trade with the Blackhawks on Tuesday
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