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Posted On Sunday, 02.01.2015 / 10:20 AM

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

At the Rink: Wild at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- New Vancouver Canucks defenseman Adam Clendening hasn't had time to unpack after being acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks late Thursday and traveling all day Friday. But he is ready to make his Canucks debut Sunday.

Clendening, who was traded for defenseman prospect Gustav Forsling, will play against the Minnesota Wild.

"I still haven't even unpacked a suitcase, so it's a bit of a whirlwind," Clendening said after practice Saturday. "But it's been fun."

Clendening is expected to start on the third pairing with Luca Sbisa, taking the place of Yannick Weber, who scored in a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. The 22-year-old defenseman will also see second-unit power play time with Dan Hamhuis.

Posted On Friday, 01.30.2015 / 5:28 PM

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

At the Rink: Sabres at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- As if making his NHL debut on Friday wasn't nerve wracking enough for Vancouver Canucks forward Ronalds Kenins, the Latvian left wing is making it against his national team coach and a national hero.

Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan coached Kenins at the 2012 and 2013 World Championships, and the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons was a teammate at all three events, and something of a folk hero back in Latvia after the country helped get him to last weekend's NHL All-Star Game with 1,574,896 votes.

Kenins admitted playing against them added pressure.

"It's a little more nervous for me because I want to show them I can play in this level," said Kenins, adding it also made his debut a bigger deal back in Latvia. "Everybody got excited, they were calling and my phone was ringing all the time. They're expecting a great game so they are pretty excited I am playing against Girgensons and Ted Nolan."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 5:29 PM

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

At the Rink: Ducks at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- When the Vancouver Canucks played the Anaheim Ducks for the first time this season on Nov. 9, they were coming off a lopsided 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings the prior night.

Worried about that listless performance, Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa tried to set the tone by fighting Ducks forward Patrick Maroon right after the opening faceoff. Vancouver went on to defeat Anaheim 2-1 in a shootout.

Now, as the Canucks prepare to play the Ducks for the fourth time this season Tuesday, Vancouver is wondering where it will get that emotional spark without Bieksa, who had surgery to repair a broken hand during the All-Star break.

Bieksa is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.
Posted On Saturday, 01.10.2015 / 5:17 PM

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

At the Rink: Flames at Canucks

VANCOUVER -- There are many questions surrounding the lineups of the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames on Saturday, but little doubt about which team has the recent advantage.

The Canucks have won nine straight games against the Flames, including two this season, part of a 10-3-2 record within the Pacific Division. Calgary is 10-3-1 against the Pacific Division, but is 0-1-1 against the Canucks.

The Flames early season success may have caught some opponents off guard, but the Canucks are not one of them.

"We realize what kind of game they play and the intensity they bring to the games," said Vancouver forward Chris Higgins, who returns after missing one game with the flu. "They have a lot of guys that are having pretty good years for them, especially on the back end, so we have been prepared for them and we will be again tonight."

Posted On Thursday, 01.08.2015 / 5:06 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 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.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 5:54 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 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.”

Posted On Saturday, 01.03.2015 / 4:41 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 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.”

Posted On Thursday, 01.01.2015 / 5:00 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 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."

Posted On Monday, 12.22.2014 / 8:21 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 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."

Posted On Monday, 12.22.2014 / 4:53 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 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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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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