AN INJURED BLUELINE
After leaving Thursday's match against the San Jose Sharks with injuries, both defencemen Shane O'Brien and Aaron Rome did not skate today and will likely not play tomorrow against the Calgary Flames.
Sami Salo will is also out with an undisclosed and unexpected injury. All three defencemen are day-to-day with their injuries, all that seem to be minor, and are expected to be ready next week for the playoffs.
"I'm feeling better today, just had a little bit of a stinger there and got hit a little awkwardly," said O'Brien who suffered an upper body injury Thursday. "I felt a little weak so they held me back the rest of the game. I got some ice on it today and some treatment and I feel better."
However Christian Ehrhoff will get back in the lineup after missing two games with a tweaked knee. With Ehrhoff back, the Canucks blueline consists of five defencemen. Whether the Canucks will call up another defenceman or use a current forward on the blueline will be decided later on today or tomorrow.
"I felt good out there today and going to be back in tomorrow," said Ehrhoff. "As far as the drills went, I gave one hundred percent."
The Canucks have endured injuries all season, both defencemen and forwards, but are not discouraged too much and will still come out hard tomorrow against the Flames.
"We've had injuries all year long," said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. "In that dressing room it was the guys that were dressed and the guys that were healthy that played. With that mentality, we were able to finish first in our division."
ART ROSS ON THE MIND
Though the Canucks are locked down in the third spot in the West, there is more to play for tomorrow than just a ‘W’ against the Flames. After an assist Thursday in San Jose, Henrik Sedin still leads the league in points with 108 (29-79-108), only two ahead of the Washington Capital’s Alex Ovechkin (48-58-106), who has two more games to play.
No Canuck has ever won the Art Ross Trophy, something that is in the back of Henrik’s mind, but only a little.
"It's there but it's nothing I really can think about. I have other things to do and think about when I'm not playing hockey," said Henrik. "We'll see on Sunday."
Henrik told line mates Alex Burrows and brother Daniel not to look for him too much, and just to play as they normally would. Henrik has racked up the points all season, so if he wins the Art Ross, it may just be the result of a full-team effort.
"He just told us to play our game and that's how we're going to be successful and not to look for him too much," said Alex Burrows. "At the same time, we'd like him to get the Art Ross so we'll help him out, but just as long as we play our game the points should come by."
The Canucks stopped Flames forward Jarome Iginla from reaching the 50 goal mark three years ago in their last regular season game. Iginla ended the season with 48. The Canucks were knocked out from the playoff run that year, and with the Flames in that situation this time around, they may try to hinder Henrik’s scoring chances.
"Just like there years ago when we had our last game against them we were really focused on shutting down Iggy, for him not to get his 50th," said Luongo. "So I'm sure they'll be focused on shutting our guys down."
Ovechkin isn’t the only one in the running against Henke. Pittsburgh Penguins lead scorer Sydney Crosby is only four points shy of tying Henrik with 104 (49-55-104), and has recorded 10 points in the last three games (two goals, eight assists). Both Ovechkin and Crosby have taken home the Art Ross once, Ovechkin in 2007-2008, and Crosby in 2006-2007.
THE LAST BATTLE
Not knowing their future playoff opponent is tough for the Canucks who are trying to prepare for the post-season. The Canucks just hope to end on a positive note and with a winning attitude as they face the Calgary Flames tomorrow in their last battle of the regular season.
The Canucks hope to even out the 3-2 series against the Flames (40-31-10), who have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Calgary has lost the last three consecutive games, and lead scorer Jarome Iginla (32-37-69) has been held off the score sheet for the last five. Though they have nothing to play for, there’s an undeniable rivalry between the two teams and the Canucks know the Flames will come out hard.
"You never know against those guys," said Burrows. "They're out of the playoffs and that's probably painful for them, it's not what they planned. So we have to take it to them, make them quit early, play well, and get ready for the playoffs."
The Canucks are coming off a 4-2 loss against the Sharks, and hope to increase their intensity and use this game as preparation for what’s to come in the playoffs.
"It's not easy for sure," said Henrik. "Especially when you're playing against teams that have nothing to play for so it's tough but we have to try to go out there, play our system, and get our intensity up at least. We're close to starting the playoffs here so we need to get the intensity up to where it should be."