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Bouncing Back

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks



Only five days since the Oilers left Vancouver, the Canucks pay a visit to Rexall Place in Edmonton tonight. The teams meet for the seventh of their eight meetings.

Another battle of the top penalty killing units in the league. Thursday night, both teams were held scoreless with the man advantage.

This time the story's a little bit different, but only a little. Although Edmonton is number two spot on the penalty kill, their PK at home is only 81.5% ranked 20th in the league. It's their 93.3% road penalty kill that's been able to keep them at second place. The Canucks first ranked PK is fourth on the road (85.4%).

Vancouver's power-play hasn't been as strong in the past two, going 0-for-12 against Edmonton and Calgary but have scored 12 goals in the seven games previous.

But sitting at 15th is still an accomplishment for the Canucks, who started the year near the bottom at 11.9% in the first 10 games.

After several line shuffles by coach Alain Vigneault, it's starting to come together but what's been the biggest change?

"I think simplicity," said Brendan Morrison, who has 14 power-play points. "Just trying to get shots through to the point. We're scoring some goals from up top, we're getting a good net presence. We've got one unit with Taylor Pyatt and another unit with Danny Sedin, they're doing a great job in front and we've been able to score some goals that way."

Taylor Pyatt, who's had four career power-play goals leads the Canucks with nine. He's averaging just over three minutes power-play time, compared to barely getting 30 seconds a game last year in Buffalo.

Pyatt has 11 points (6-5-11) in his last nine games, while Markus Naslund tries to extend his four-game point streak and has 14 (4-10-14) in his last 11.


Ryan Kesler's hip surgery last Monday was successful and the Province has already reported him on the road to recovery.

Only a week since the surgery and Kesler is starting his slow recovery process, which requires a lot of patience - something that prove to be difficult for an eager young player like himself.

He hopes to be back for the playoff run, aiming at an 11 week recovery term, although Vigneault originally predicted 12-16 weeks.

"Hopefully, the team keeps doing well and makes the playoffs," said Kesler. "That's what I'm hoping for right now, so the team makes the playoffs and I can come back and help them."

Kesler had five points in his last seven and was +5 in those games.


Ten points separates the first place Flames and the fifth place Avs in the Northwest. That's the largest point separation all year.

But when we say large, it's really not that much considering 16 points separating the Southeast is the next tightest division in the league.

With every Northwest team in action tonight, the standings will no doubt see some more changes. Vancouver hopes to capitalize and get back on top of the division with a win over Edmonton tonight.

"We're going into a desperate team's building so we're going to expect the best from them," says Trevor Linden. "It's a huge game and we have to be a lot more prepared than we were Saturday night."

In the past few weeks, teams in the Northwest have been involved in many three-point games, which does little to increase the point divide.

The Oilers are coming off two-straight wins and hope to increase their streak to three for the first time since December, while the Canucks hope to bounce back from a disappointing loss Saturday night that saw the Flames regain first in the division.

Minnesota will play Dallas, who are just two points ahead of the Canucks and the difference between sixth and seventh place in the Conference.

Chicago will pay a visit to the Flames Saddledome and Colorado will face-off against Florida tonight.


Rick Rypien, who's played in just two games since being called up from the Manitoba Moose traveled with the team to Alberta this week and what's more encouraging is he's skating with the team as well.

"This was obviously the first practice and get a few more in," he said. "I think I'm going to need a few more just to get timing back and all the little things to come back."

Rypien started skating on his own last Monday while continuing off-ice conditioning work outs. He's missed 25 games so far and although he's still trying to get back into the swing of things, his return to the lineup could be right around the corner.

"It's a different pace than skating on your own but today went pretty good. Groin-wise I feel just a little bit behind - it's the pace you're not used to but I think in time it'll come back. Hopefully within the next week, with a couple more practices, hopefully I'll be cleared to play."

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