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Posted On Tuesday, 04.01.2014 / 4:23 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Lack to start for Canucks against Rangers

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks rookie goalie Eddie Lack never has met fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist, but he long has admired the New York Rangers star goaltender.

Lack will face Lundqvist for the first time Tuesday (10 p.m. ET, TSN), but wasn't yet sure if he'd speak up while they are stretching at the red line during pregame warm-ups.

"He's a guy I have been looking up to for almost 10 years now and I've been looking forward to this a while," Lack said of Lundqvist, who will be back in goal for the Rangers after serving as the backup Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers. "It's a great moment for me."

There are similarities between Lack and Lundqvist in terms how they play deeper in their crease and minimize their movements. Lack, who is making his 17th straight start, cited Lundqvist among a handful of goalies he watches closely to find things he can improve in his game.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.29.2014 / 4:17 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canucks' Bieksa planning to play through injury

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa isn't ready to let a leg injury keep him out of the lineup with the season still hanging in the balance against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.

Bieksa played two shifts after a hit left him limping off the ice late in the second period of a 3-2 overtime loss against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, and the Canucks called up rookie defenseman Frank Corrado from the American Hockey League on Friday.

So it was a bit of a surprise to see Bieksa taking part in the morning skate Saturday, including time on the top power play unit. He will be a game-time decision, but hinted strongly he plans to play.

"If there's a chance I can play, I will," Bieksa said. "We'll see how it feels later, but I got through the skate OK, and this time of the year there is a lot of guys playing injured. So if you can play, you play."

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Posted On Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 7:58 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Kesler, Sedin return to Canucks lineup

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler returned to play against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday after missing four games with a sprained left knee.

Kesler was at practice Friday for the first time since a knee-on-knee collision with Winnipeg Jets forward Jim Slater on March 12, but was a game-time decision against Buffalo. Kesler will center the second line in place of Shawn Matthias, who drops to the fourth line, and Jordan Schroeder goes from the fourth line to being a healthy scratch.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.23.2014 / 12:27 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sabres' Lieuwen to face childhood favorite Canucks

VANCOUVER – Buffalo Sabres goalie Nathan Lieuwen will make his second NHL start Sunday night in front of family and friends against the Vancouver Canucks team he grew up cheering.

Lieuwen gets the start after Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who was hoping to return Sunday, had a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury and wasn't able to practice Saturday.

With No. 1 goaltender Jhonas Enroth not on the road trip because of a lower-body injury, coach Ted Nolan said he wanted to give Lieuwen a start close to home. Nolan said Ontario native Matt Hackett, who made 35 saves in a 3-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers to snap the Sabres seven-game losing skid on Thursday, will start when Buffalo goes back east to play the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

Lieuwen, who was called up March 16, appreciated the gesture.

In addition to expecting a big crowd to make the one-hour drive west from his hometown of Abbotsford, Lieuwen will be facing at least one more of the Canucks he used to root for.

Daniel Sedin returns to Vancouver's No. 1 line after missing nine games with a hamstring injury, and second-line center Ryan Kesler is a game-day decision after missing four with a knee sprain.

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.19.2014 / 4:12 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canucks get Richardson back, but lose Tanev

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks defenseman Christopher Tanev could miss the rest of the season with a broken finger from blocking a Steven Stamkos shot against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

"Probably 3-4 weeks,” coach John Tortorella said of the timeline for Tanev to return.

Vancouver has three-and-a-half weeks left in the regular season and heads into its game Wednesday against the Nashville Predators trailing the Phoenix Coyotes by five points for the second Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Canucks may need to win 10 of their final 11 games to have a chance at the playoffs but have four wins in their past 18 games.

"We certainly need to get a streak going or we're done," Tortorella said. "But let's just worry about starting one against Nashville."

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Posted On Monday, 03.10.2014 / 4:12 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canucks hope Jensen can spark offense

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella will tinker with his top line to find some needed offense against the New York Islanders on Monday.

In his second game since being called up from the American Hockey League on Friday, rookie right wing Nicklas Jensen will move up to play alongside center Henrik Sedin and left wing Alexandre Burrows. Given the lengthy scoring slumps of the other two first-line forwards, Jensen may be the one counted on to provide a spark.

Burrows has yet to score a goal in a season limited to 34 games by a variety of injuries, while Sedin doesn't have a point in 12 games and hasn't scored in 23 games. Jensen, a 21-year-old picked 29th in the 2011 NHL Draft, had nine goals in his past 14 AHL games before being held without a shot in 16:18 of ice time against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

"You need that as an organization to have young guys come in and get some minutes," Sedin said. "They play with a lot of excitement and energy. There are going to be some mistakes, but it's not like we've been mistake-free all the other nights either."

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Posted On Saturday, 03.08.2014 / 4:13 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Call-up Jensen hopes to spark struggling Canucks

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks don't have a lot of young, promising forward prospects to call up from the American Hockey League, but they'll get a good look at one in Nicklas Jensen against the Calgary Flames Saturday night.

Jensen celebrated his 21st birthday on Thursday, was called up from the Utica Comets on Friday and will start against the Flames in a top-six role, playing right wing with Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins.

The slumping Canucks have scored nine goals in their past nine games and hope Jensen can provide a needed offensive boost after scoring nine goals in his past 14 games in the AHL.

"He's come alive of late," coach John Tortorella said. "I'm going to put him in an offensive position at the start and see where we go."

The Canucks haven't looked like they are going anywhere lately.

A stretch of one win in 12 games has dropped Vancouver to 11th in the Western Conference and sparked talk of a need to rebuild a franchise thin on offensive forward prospects. When top-six right wing Zack Kassian was suspended three games for his hit on Dallas Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon in a 6-1 loss on Thursday, the Canucks finally turned to Jensen.

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Posted On Friday, 02.28.2014 / 4:06 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Kesler, Tanev to return for Canucks against Wild

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks second-line center Ryan Kesler and top-four defenseman Christopher Tanev will each return from a hand injury to play against the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

Kesler did not play Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues after hurting his left hand blocking a shot during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and Tanev has missed seven games since injuring his right thumb blocking a shot against the Edmonton Oilers in late January.

They are welcome additions to the Canucks, who snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 1-0 win against St. Louis.

Kesler leads the team with 20 goals and is tops among NHL forwards in average ice time at 22:12 per game. He plays on the top power-play and penalty-kill units for the Canucks. He was injured by an Ilya Kovalchuk shot in the preliminary round in Sochi but played the final four games for the United States before returning here.

"He has been our most consistent guy," Canucks coach John Tortorella said. "He's been a horse, so it's a really good thing for our lineup. It kind of slots some other guys where they should be, so we're happy."

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Posted On Thursday, 02.27.2014 / 5:52 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2014 Trade Deadline blog

Canucks' Kesler denies requesting trade

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler was back on the ice and in the spotlight Thursday, but the hand he injured during the 2014 Sochi Olympics was far from the biggest story.

Kesler, who didn't play in the Canucks' 1-0 win against the St. Louis Blues the night before, spent most of his lengthy post-practice media scrum denying reports he had asked for a trade out of Vancouver.

"Completely false," Kesler said. "I'm happy. I love my teammates. I love the city. My son was born here, my kids grew up here."

Reports surfaced Wednesday night that Kesler had asked for a trade at the start of the season, and speculation has surrounded the Canucks for weeks that Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin are the team's only untouchable players.

"It's coming from our seven-game losing streak, and when you have reports that everybody not named Sedin is on the trading block, I think it stems from that," said Kesler, who has a no-trade clause on a contract with a $5 million annual salary-cap charge through end of the 2015-16 season.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.26.2014 / 4:18 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canucks won't have Kesler vs. Blues; Sedin likely

VANCOUVER -- So much for the 2014 Sochi Olympics giving the injury-ravaged Vancouver Canucks time to rest and recover.

Although a couple key players are expected to return against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, none will make up for the loss of second-line center Ryan Kesler, who won't play after injuring his hand in Sochi.

"He's out and day-to-day," coach John Tortorella said shortly before the Canucks skated Wednesday morning, refusing twice to elaborate.

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Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure