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Burning Out The Flames

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks

DEC.14.06


UP AND DOWN


Sami Salo and Taylor Pyatt skated with the team for the first time on Wednesday. Both are still questionable for Saturday's game but the outlook is positive.

"I could barely raise my head in the first few days so a lot of pain and hopefully in the next few days it will get better," said Salo.

Josh Green and Rory Fitzpatrick will both be returning to the lineup tonight against the Flames.

"It feels fine, there's just the odd tweak here and then when you push off or when you stop sharp," said Green. "It's just in some pain and then it goes away but it shouldn't be a problem."

"Barring any set backs from now until game time, I should be able to go. It feels pretty good so I'll give it a shot tonight."

It'll be yet another important divisional game against a tough opponent for a first game back but Green's confident about returning tonight.

"You're never going to get into full game shape just by practicing and riding the bike, the only way to get back into that shape is to play a game so. It's not like I'm going out there and playing 20 minutes or anything like that but it'll be around ten minutes so it's a good way to get back into it."

Fitzpatrick, who's been out for 15 games with an ankle injury will be a welcome addition to the team.

"It's good to have Rory back, it's been a while and he has that depth on defence that we need," Said Kevin Bieksa. "He's a steady reliable guy and we've missed him."

With Green and Fitzpatrick back, Alex Edler and Lee Goren were reassigned to Manitoba this morning. Edler, who's played 12 games with the Canucks on two different stints, goes back to the Moose having scored his first NHL goal and assist.


IGGY STOP

Always a thorn in the Canucks' side Jarome Iginla, who leads Calgary with 18 goals and 37 points, tied a career high with four points Tuesday by contributing two goals and two assists, will have all eyes on the watch for him.

Iginla scored for the sixth straight game, a streak during which he has seven goals and six assists.

"He's on a bit of a hot streak and we're aware of that," said Bieksa. "Try to limit his time and his space and keep an extra eye out on him."

Iginla's registered five points in two games against the Canucks this season and with his current hot streak, he's even more dangerous. Roberto Luongo's sure aware of it and doesn't want to see another five goals get behind him tonight.

"He's the type of guy who's not afraid to bring the puck to the net," said Luongo. "He's had a couple collisions with me so far this year. I think it's important for me to be strong and try to hold my ground if he's coming right at me."

A challenge that Alain Vigneault wants the whole team to tackle.

"He's one of the top athletes in the NHL, not only can he do it with skill, he can do it with grit and desire and willingness so it has to be a combined team effort, it has to be the five guys on the ice working together. That's our challenge tonight, he's hurt us both games."


AWAY FROM THE SADDLE

The Flames home record is impressive only losing three this year but on the other side of the story, they've only won three road games all season. Their last road win was in Vancouver on November 11.They're trying to break their four-game road losing streak as they begin their six-game road trip at GM Place.

The Canucks home record is 9-7-0, after having a slow start at home has won four of their last six. A common thread in the dressing room today is a full 60. The Canucks need to start off strong but must keep up the pace throughout for the three periods.

"I think we've played some pretty good hockey [at home]," said Bieksa, who had a goal, an assist last game, and finishing with a plus four rating. "The key will be 60 minute game. Hopefully we can get that quick start and build from there and hopefully our special teams are going like they have the last few games."

The Canucks scored 12 goals in their last three games, giving fans something to cheer about and silencing the media's incessant questioning of their goal scoring but ninth place in the West just isn't going to cut it come April.

"If we want to get to the dance, we're going to have to be better," said Vigneault. "I think in some occasions some periods we've done it in a very good way but the challenge is to do it for three periods in a row."

"Great athletes always find ways to contribute to their team and it's not an easy task, that's why it has to be five guys working together."


JUMP START

Everybody knows the Northwest is tight but three points separating first and last is really tight. Every game won or loss means a shift in position and that coveted playoff berth.

"We're obviously playing for position so it's going to be important," said Green. "It's a big two points so we've got to start winning some divisional games and hopefully it starts tonight."

Maybe it was jet lag or fatigue of playing back-to-back games but the Canucks didn't show up in Calgary until the third period but it was too late. Now back on home turf, it's up to the team to start out with high energy and playing the way they know how: hard.

"I think we look at last game, the way we came out against Calgary, we were pretty flat," said Bieksa. "I don't think we were prepared and we know how hard they come out early. They key will be a good start for us, a good ten minutes and a third period like we had against Calgary and try to keep it going."

"Our start in Calgary was terrible, we took five penalties in the first period and we didn't give ourselves that great a chance to win that game," said Brendan Morrison.




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