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Back in the Saddle

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks


Vancouver's power-play has needed improvement since the beginning of the season, starting the season at 11.9 percent in the first ten games and amongst the bottom in the league.

Although the Canucks still sit in the bottom third in the league with the man advantage ranked 24, in the last ten games, the Canucks are 22 percent.

This improvement is in large part credited to the defensive pairing on the power-play unit. Mattias Ohlund and Kevin Bieksa have been making their mark playing with the Sedin twins and Trevor Linden.

Ohlund has nine points in the last nine games, including two against the Oilers on Saturday night. Bieksa has ten in the last ten and registered points in seven of those ten.

"It was just a matter of time, I guess," said Bieksa. "You put all those pucks on net and something good is going to happen eventually. It's better than hitting posts and crossbars and everything like I was at the beginning of the year."

The Canucks are on their third three-game win streak of the season, where Bieksa has points in all three and Ohlund in the last two.


The newest Canucks, Jeff Cowan, who saw only 2:08 of ice time in his first game with the team will not dress tonight against the Flames.

Cowan is out with a swollen eye after an early first-period fight with Jean-Francois Jacques on Saturday against the Oilers.

"We've had everything checked out and there is nothing broken, but he can't open the eye right now," said Alain Vigneault.

He is expected to be out at least two more days. Friday will be the earliest we can expect his return.

Marc Chouinard will play tonight after sitting out as a healthy scratch in Edmonton.


It's the fourth divisional game in a row for the Canucks, who try for four straight tonight when they visit the Pengrowth Saddledome.

The Canucks have yet to win four straight this season but have been playing well and even outscoring their opponents 18-10 in their last 4.

After losing the last game in Vancouver 6-5 in overtime, the Flames will want redemption at home, where they are 14-4-0.

The Flames were on a ten-game home winning streak before the Canucks handed them a loss a week ago. They have won 12 of their last 13at home.

"We know Calgary is going to come out hard, finish their checks and how they're going to play in the tough areas," said Vigneault. "We have to do the same."

With the last three divisional games in tow, the Canucks improved their Northwest record to 7-9-1 and are currently sitting in third in the division, putting them eighth in the conference, just ahead of Colorado.

"It's kind of fun to play Calgary," Roberto Luongo, who out-duelled Miikka Kiprusoff 6-5 in their last meeting six days ago, said after the Canucks practiced on New Year's Day. "Obviously we're fighting for first place and it's kind of like a Stanley Cup final game. They're intense games and they're fun to play."

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