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Canucks Host Stars

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks



Both Sami Salo and Willie Mitchell were on the ice Monday morning. Both defenders skated solo after the team cleared the ice.

"I didn't ask Bernie [medical trainer Mike Burnstein] how it went so I couldn't tell you," said Alain Vigneault, when asked about their health. "They looked pretty good on the ice but I'm not sure exactly."

Salo was initially to return in a week after spraining his anterior cruciate ligament. That would mean Friday.

Mitchell is day-to-day. His return depends on the severity of his post-concussion symptoms, but it was suggested he could return as soon as Thursday.

"We have to practices coming up here so we'll see how Willie reacts tomorrow," said Vigneault. "And with Sami, I didn't ask."


With two defenders down, general manager Dave Nonis dipped into the farm for help.

Baby-faced Swedish defender Alexander Edler got the call and made his NHL debut against the Avalanche Saturday.

"I thought he played really well," said Vigneault. "He got over 13 minutes of ice time, had a good stick, defensively he was always in the right area, and he moved the puck around pretty good. Other than the fact he's got no beard, he looked fine to me.

The 20-year-old wore jersey #23 and had one shot on goal and two blocked shots in Denver.

"I think it helped that I played a couple of pre-season games," said a soft-spoken Edler from the middle of Naslund-sized media horde. "So I kind of knew what was coming. I think I had a two good first shifts and I think that was key too."

When asked how he felt about getting the call ahead of Moose defenders Patrick Coulombe and Prestin Ryan, Edler was understandably modest.

"I don't know why it was me, but I'm just happy it was me."


Edler didn't get a crack on special teams, though his time might not be far off.

The Canuck power play went 1-for-3 in Colorado, but is operating at 11.9 per cent which is good for 25th overall. The league's top five power plays are all above 20 per cent.

"If the power play would have been better the first 15 games then we would have had a lot better record for sure," said Henrik Sedin, who leads the team with six power-play points.

"Setting up isn't a big problem for us, we're gaining the zone and we get the puck, but I think we're making bad decisions with the puck. We're shooting when we shouldn't be shooting, and we're passing up shots when maybe we shouldn't have. It's something we need to work on."

Vigneault agrees. He said it's just a matter of reading the opposition better.

"On the power play you have to take what the opposition gives you. Every team prepares really well killing penalties by looking at tendencies the other teams have, and we haven't been able to jump quickly enough on what the other team has given us - whether that would be a point shot with traffic, or whether that would be walking out down low and trying to beat the goaltender."


A noted internet mongerist suggested Canuck centre Brendan Morrison could be moved to Ottawa at the upcoming GM's meeting in Toronto.

Of course Mo - one of the most accommodating player in any NHL dressing room - was mobbed as soon as he dressed this morning.

"New team this week," he laughed. "What can you do? You can't stop people from writing what they want to write. It's just another rumour I guess. You just have to deal with it."

When asked if management had talked to him yet, Morrison made another joke.

"No, not yet," he said. "I don't know whether that's good or bad."

"I came in this morning and couple of guys had seen it and were joking around about it, but I don't know."

"It comes with the property. The team goes through a stretch where they lose a couple of games and people are looking for moves saying, 'what's wrong with the team?' Some names are going to be floated so I mean I'm used to it."


The Canucks haven't exactly been going deaf from all the goal horns thus far. They rank 26th in goals-per-game at 2.47.

Everyone from Sam Sullivan to the hot dog guy outside of the Future Shop on Braodway harbour an strong opinion as to why. Josh Green's no different.

"In today's league you need to get them up high or get some traffic, or do something a little extra to get pucks by them [goaltenders]. Shots from outside or shots along the ice, goalies are going to stop those every time. We've talked about it in here. We need to get some more traffic. We have to start shooting to score. Just putting pucks on net and getting traffic isn't enough any more. We have to start putting pucks by goalies."

The chances are there and Alain Vigneault feels confident that it's just a matter of time before the goals start to come.

"I think some of that has to do with maybe having a better net presence, yet I really believe it's just a matter of time. With the hard work our guys are putting in, the rolls that are rolling off the post one way are going to start rolling in the other way. Once we get a couple of good offensive outings our confidence is going to pick up."

"I do believe we are more than a two-goal team a game. We do have that talent and that potential."

"I firmly believe that the hard work is going to pay off. We're playing .500 hockey right now, but we could easily be 9-5-1 with a little more puck savvy or puck luck - whatever you want to call it."


November 6, 2001: Goaltender Dan Cloutier is named NHL Player of the Week.

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