Getting even. That's the motivation many Canucks spoke of today as they practiced at GM Place before heading off to Denver for the second game of a "home and home" against the Avalanche tomorrow.
And while it's safe to say no one was thrilled with the team's 5-4 Shootout loss to the Avs Sunday, most of the team appears eager to face them again.
"We're not happy with the way we played last night, and to get them so quickly is kind of nice... to get out there and seek some revenge" said defenseman Kevin Bieksa
. "We'll definitely be ready for them this time"
The Canucks are currently clinging to the lead in Northwest Division. They're tied with Minnesota with 97 points, but have the lead by virtue of fewer games played. Head coach Alain Vigneault says his team knows what they need to do both tomorrow and down the rest of the stretch.
"I don't really have to get mad at our team," said Vigneault. "Guys know that 2 shots in the second period and 2 shots in the 3rd just isn't good enough. They know."
"We are in a position right now to finish first in our division and we shouldn't shy away from that challenge. Minnesota's got some tough games this week in their building against Calgary, a team who's fighting for their playoff lives; we've got a tough game tomorrow night against Colorado. I want us to play hard, I want us to play hard right to the end and that's what we're going to do."
Brendan Morrison added the team is looking forward to atoning for Sunday's loss:
"We've been playing some pretty good hockey here lately, and last night we just weren't as sharp as we have been. It's a time for us as a team to regroup show we can correct these things right away" he said.
The Canucks will have the opportunity to do just that when the puck drops tomorrow at 6pm in Denver. ONE UP, ONE DOWN
While one defenseman is set to return to the Canucks line-up in Colorado tomorrow, one will miss this week's two game road trip.
Although no official will be made until game time, Sami Salo
looks poised to make his return to the Canucks line-up in Denver.
The team's top scoring defenseman looked sharp at practice today, and if he has anything to say about it, he'll be back on the blue line against the Avs tomorrow.
"I think it's up to me," said Salo. "The training staff and coaching staff are good that way. They believe the player, and once the player gives it the green light they're alright with that."
Coach Vigneault echoed Salo's sentiments. "We wouldn't put someone in the line up who has a chance to re-injure himself, but at the same time, when a player tells you he's ready to go and medical clears him, they're going back in" said Vigneault.
His return couldn't come at a better time as Mattias Ohlund will miss his second consecutive game tomorrow with an elbow injury. He'll miss both tomorrow's game and Thursday's tilt against the Kings.
"It's a kind of freak injury, but at the same time, I think we're making the right decision to take it slow here," said Ohlund. "Obviously you want to be part of the playoffs and play the last few games, so we'll take a few days to rest and hopefully it will heal properly."
Brent Sopel missed the skate today with the flu. Coach Vigneault says Sopel will travel with the team and is expected to play tomorrow. JUGGLING ACT
Vigneault unveiled a few new line combos at practice. Jeff Cowan skated on a line with Markus Naslund and Bryan Smolinski, while Jan Bulis joined Matt Cooke and Brendan Morrison.
Alain Vigneault confirmed he'll keep these lines intact through to tomorrow's game.
"I think Cowan with Bryan and Markus might give them a physical presence. You already have that with Mo - Matt Cooke is the physical presence on that line" said Vigneault. "We have two guys doing a little bit of the same thing. We'll try and see if that might not be a better balance."