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Sundin expects to make debut with Canucks

Wednesday, 01.07.2009 / 4:27 PM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

After Tuesday saw 22 of the NHL's 30 teams in action, there are just two games Wednesday night when the Canadiens visit the Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, NHLN-US) in an Original Six matchup and the Oilers host the Canucks in a Northwest Division showdown. Mats Sundin is expected to make his debut with Vancouver after sitting out for most of the first half of this season.

Here's what to watch:

* Montreal center Robert Lang, who leads the team with 12 goals, has just 2 goals in his last 11 games. Lang, who had his fifth multiple-point game this season last Sunday in the Habs' 6-5 shootout victory against the Panthers, has 15 goals and 31 points in 29 career games against the Rangers, including a goal in the previous meeting this season.

* Habs defenseman Andrei Markov, who was voted a starter for the Eastern Conference at the All-Star Game in Montreal, has 16 more points than any other Montreal defenseman. Markov has 10 of his 22 assists in the first period.

* Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges, who averages 3:09 of shorthanded ice time per game, is second on the team with 88 blocked shots. Gorges, who leads the team with a plus-16 rating, had 9 points in 62 games last season and has 7 points in 38 games this season.  

* Rangers left wing Aaron Voros, who majored in political science at University of Alaska-Fairbanks, had 3 goals and 7 points in his first five games this season, but has just 7 points in his last 34 games. Voros, who is playing alongside Brandon Dubinsky, has just 1 assist in his last 12 games.

* Rangers left wing Nigel Dawes, who has been moved to a line with Chris Drury and Petr Prucha, has 4 goals and 8 points in his last 8 games, including scoring the game-winning goal and adding an assist Monday in the Rangers' 4-0 victory against the Penguins.

 * Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, who is second among the team's defensemen with 16 points, has just 1 point in his last 17 games. Girardi, who played for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League in 2005 when they won the Memorial Cup, is one of three Rangers with at least 107 hits.

* Vancouver, which has played just as many games as any Western Conference team and is in second place in the Northwest Division with 47 points, has a 1-5 record in shootouts. The Canucks, who have a 9-7-5 record in one-goal games, have a 16-5-4 record when outshooting their opponents, but have a 5-10-1 record when being outshot.

* Canucks center Kyle Wellwood, who is second on the team with 14 goals, hasn't taken a penalty in 147 games. Wellwood, who cleared waivers earlier this season, is averaging 3:40 of power-play ice time and has 9 power-play points.

 
* Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who has 2 points in his last nine games, leads the team's defensemen with 15 assists and 20 points despite missing nine games this season with a broken foot and a knee injury. Bieksa, who has played more than 40 games in just one of the four seasons he's played in the NHL, has 13 assists in 21 career games against the Oilers including 4 assists in four games this season.

* Canucks center Ryan Kesler, who enjoys wake surfing, leads the team with a 53.8 faceoff-winning percentage. Kesler, who averages 18:55 of ice time per game, has played more than 20 minutes in his last three games.

* Edmonton center Andrew Cogliano, who is tied for the team lead with 12 goals, has 4 goals in his last seven games. Cogliano, who had 18 goals in 82 games as a rookie last season, has 12 goals in 38 games and is on pace to finish this season with 25 goals.

* Oilers right wing Dustin Penner, who leads the team with 4 game-winning goals, has 3 assists and 4 points in his last six games. Penner, who has a minus-4 rating in seven Wednesday games this season, had more points in December (10) than he did in October or November.

* Edmonton left wing Ethan Moreau, who was named captain in 2007, has a plus-6 rating in his last eight games. Moreau, who has 4 of his 8 assists in the third period, has 10 points in 18 Oilers wins and just 5 points in 19 Edmonton losses. 

* Oilers right wing Ales Hemsky, who has 7 more assists than any other Edmonton player, has 17 power-play assists. Hemsky, who has had five multiple-assist games this season, has had two in his last three games.

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com.
Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets