The Vancouver Canucks
have no problem admitting they emulate the Detroit Red Wings
in terms of how they've built their team and want to play.
Coach Alain Vigneault
would like them to imitate Detroit in front of the net too.
With his team struggling slightly not only on the power play -- it's relative when you lead the League -- but also just to generate man advantages, Vigneault stressed the need for improved net presence from his Canucks. Not only should it help a power play that hasn't scored in six chances over three games, but it should create more chances after Vancouver failed to get even one advantage during a 3-2 overtime win over rival Chicago on Tuesday.
"I'd like to take a page out of Detroit's book," Vigneault said. "I feel they're the best team in the League as far as net presence and always having somebody there -- square to the puck and making it hard on the goaltender. We need to screen the goalie more than looking to tip pucks. And they have so many big bodies that like to do that and go in those tough areas. They're one of the most physical teams in the League."
Detroit also has one of the NHL's best net-front presences in Tomas Holmstrom
, who returns to action against the Canucks after missing a game with swollen knees. He's a player that Vancouver's Ryan Kesler
has tried to learn from since taking over that hard role atop opposing creases last season, a job his coach believes will be key to ending the Canucks' 3-for-23 skid over the last eight games.
"I try to get better at that every day, it's still pretty new to me," said Kesler, a center who used to anchor the second unit. "I always try to pick up little things and he's pretty good at it. Tips is one thing, just learning how and when to take the goalie's eyes away."