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Posted On Saturday, 03.14.2015 / 10:36 AM

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

At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Canucks

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks will get several key players back from injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, but more important will be making sure everyone else is focused.

That wasn't the case against a couple of the NHL's other struggling teams recently and it cost the Canucks valuable points in their race to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Vancouver lost 6-3 to the last-place the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 26 and needed a late rally to earn a point before losing 3-2 in a shootout to the Arizona Coyotes, who are 14th in the Western Conference, on March 5.

Toronto comes to Vancouver in 13th place in the Eastern Conference after a 6-3 loss Friday to the Calgary Flames, has five wins in its last 31 games and has only won one road game in 2015. Of course, the Coyotes had lost 10 straight before beating Vancouver.

"I can stand here and say a lot of different things but it's about us being ready," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "The first five minutes we have to come out and show that we're not going to let this one slip away and not give Toronto any life."

Posted On Thursday, 03.12.2015 / 5:44 PM

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

At the Rink: Kings at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Los Angeles Kings appear comfortable with playoff-style hockey before the Stanley Cup Playoffs start.

The Vancouver Canucks are learning as they go, knowing how they fare in three remaining games against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Kings could play a big role in them making the playoffs at all this season. The first of those three games is Monday at Rogers Arena.

"It's not the same game. There is a switch that flips," Vancouver center Shawn Matthias said. "It's tough hockey; it's different. You see a team fighting for a playoff spot. It's going to be like a playoff game out there. You learn a lot about how hard you have to battle."

That type of hockey is old hat for a lot of the Kings.

Posted On Monday, 03.09.2015 / 4:46 PM

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

At the Rink: Ducks at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Defenseman James Wisniewski is ready to return from a foot injury and play his first game with the Anaheim Ducks on Monday against the Vancouver Canucks.

There's one problem: He still doesn't have his equipment.

Wisniewski said after the morning skate Monday he is ready to play after he sustained a bone bruise in his final game with the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 1. He was traded to Anaheim the next day, but his equipment got stuck in Memphis because of weather issues so he remains without his own skates, and perhaps most importantly, a custom-fit brace for his right knee.

Wisniewski said the equipment arrived in Anaheim late Sunday and Ducks general manager Bob Murray was bringing it to Vancouver on Monday afternoon, so he's hoping to play.

"I'm told there’s a 95-percent chance it will be here for tonight's game," Wisniewski said after wearing borrowed skates and a knee brace for the morning skate. "I guess there was storms of something in Memphis and it just got stuck and I don't know if they didn't think I was going to play this quickly or what."

Posted On Tuesday, 03.03.2015 / 4:24 PM

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

At the Rink: Sharks at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom's first NHL game of the season is an important one against the San Jose Sharks, with plenty of Stanley Cup Playoff implications for each team on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Swede wouldn't have it any other way.

"I try to prepare myself the same way, but obviously it's great to get the confidence from the coaches and the players to put me in there in a big spot," Markstrom said. "I can't wait to get out there."

The Canucks are second in the Pacific Division, five points ahead of the Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings and Sharks, who all have 70 points. San Jose is currently 10th in the Western Conference standings because the Sharks have played more games, but they can move up Tuesday.

Posted On Sunday, 03.01.2015 / 2:24 PM

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

At the Rink: Blues at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks return home from a tough five-game Eastern Conference road trip, but still have to wait for reinforcements to an injury-ravaged lineup.

Top-pair defensemen Christopher Tanev and Alexander Edler skated together on Sunday morning for the first time after each missed six games with injuries. Fellow top-four defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who has been out since breaking his hand blocking a shot on Jan. 20, also skated before the rest of the team, but none of the seven injured Canucks will play against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night.

That list also includes top-line right wing Alexandre Burrows and No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller, who is out four to six weeks with a knee sprain.

Despite the absences, Vancouver is 4-2-0 in its past six even after a disappointing loss to the last-place Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. The Canucks have held onto second place in the Pacific Division through the injuries, but only have a three-point lead over the Calgary Flames in the Western Conference Stanley Cup Playoff race.

Posted On Monday, 02.16.2015 / 3:56 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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."

Posted On Friday, 02.13.2015 / 4:26 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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."

Posted On Saturday, 02.07.2015 / 4:20 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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."

Posted On Thursday, 02.05.2015 / 4:47 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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.

Posted On Tuesday, 02.03.2015 / 4:58 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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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I would definitely love to play with him. He's a skilled player and over the years he definitely has shown that he can score a lot of goals. I think it would work out well.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk on Alexander Semin