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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.
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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."

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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."

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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."

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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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Posted On Saturday, 12.20.2014 / 4:10 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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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This is a great day for me. This is something I've been thinking about for a long time. This is a great opportunity that the St. Louis Blues organization, (owner) Tom Stillman and Doug Armstrong are giving me and trusting me in doing...This is going to be a great challenge for me.

— Martin Brodeur, after announcing his retirement as an NHL player and becoming a senior adviser with the Blues on Thursday