Newly acquired defenceman Andrew Alberts joins the Canucks in Chicago today and for the remainder of their six-game road trip. He will make his Canuck debut tomorrow against the Blackhawks.
With concerns of injured blueliners Willie Mitchell (concussion) and Kevin Bieksa (lacerated ankle tendon), the Canucks defence will benefit from the 6’5” 220 pound defenceman, who describes himself as a physical player and a stay-at-home defender.
“I like to bring a physical game, getting a big hit whenever I can and make solid plays out of the defensive zone and chip in on the offence if I can,” Alberts told Team 1040 earlier today. “When it comes down to physical play, that’s what I think they want me to do and play my game, go out there and get the team going.”
After spending five seasons in the East with the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, and this year with the Carolina Hurricanes, he is moving West for the first time in his hockey career.
“I don’t know a whole lot about them because we’ve only played them once this year,” said Alberts. “I have a couple guys that I’ve played with that are on this team but I know they’re one of the top teams in the West and leading their division right now so I’m looking forward to chipping in and helping them get in the playoffs.”
Alberts played with Canuck goaltender Andrew Raycroft in Boston in the 2005-2006 season, and forward Ryan Kesler in the 2006 World Championships on Team USA. He also played with Canuck prospect, Cory Schneider in the 2004-05 season at Boston College.
Alberts doesn’t know where he’ll fit into the lineup tomorrow but is excited to play with the Canucks on the road, and even more excited to experience playing on the Canucks home ice in Vancouver.
“Everything I’ve heard about Vancouver is second-to-none,” said Alberts. “I played one game last here with Philly, and I remember how awesome the crowd was and how great of a place it was to play in so I’m looking forward to getting home and playing for a home team.”
In 62 games with the Canes this season, he has two goals, eight assists and is a plus-7.
Alberts will wear number 41 for the Canucks. Only three other Canucks have worn that number including, Robin Bawa, Prestin Ryan, and most recently, Curtis Sanford.
It is that time of the season where things are too close for comfort as the playoffs approach. The top eight teams in the West are separated by 19 points with teams from third to thirteenth only separated by 14.
After a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday, the Canucks maintain sole possession of the top spot in the Northwest division and third in the Western conference with 80 points (39-22-2). The Colorado Avalanche (36-21-6) are only two points back with 78 and with all the teams so tight, positions are changing daily.
The Canucks are nine points behind the Chicago Blackhawks (42-16-5) and the San Jose Sharks (40-14-9) who are the top two teams in the Western conference.
Last season, the Canucks won 14 out of their last 21 games earning them another division title. The Canucks have proven they’re a tough team to beat at home with a 23-7-1 record, good for second best in the league. With 19 games remaining, Vancouver would love to repeat as Northwest champs and gain home-ice in the playoffs but first thing is clinching that all-important berth.
Since their return from the two week Olympic break, forward Ryan Kesler (18-39-57) has two goals and an assist in the two games. He currently holds a seven game point streak that began before the Olympic break.
Third liner, Kyle Wellwood (9-9-18) has been increasing his production with three goals in the last four games.
Daniel (16-42-58) and Henrik Sedin (25-58-83) continue to pad their numbers, each earning three points Wednesday against the Blackhawks. Henrik surpassed his career best last night with his 83rd point of the season when he assisted on Mikael Samuelsson’s 22nd of the year.