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By Laura Chambers
Scrimmage makes perfect
The Vancouver Canucks took to the ice on Monday for a full team practice at Rogers Arena. After nearly a week since their series clincher last Tuesday, the Canucks are finally gearing up for Stanley Cup Final.
Today’s practice included a 40-minute scrimmage between team green and team blue. The entire team participated with the addition of four call-ups from the Manitoba Moose. Goaltender Eddie Lack was the only player who didn’t suit up.
“It was good to get a simulated game in there and get back into the swing of things,” said Ryan Kesler, who participated in his first full practice since last Tuesday’s win.
The Selke nominee took three days off after appearing to injure his left leg in Game 5 against San Jose. Kesler skated on his own before Saturday’s practice but says he’s feeling good now and is “ready to go.”
Daniel Sedin has no concern that Kesler or the rest of the Canucks will be rusty come Wednesday.
“You can practice all you want but today was more game-like,” said Daniel Sedin, who helped lead team blue to scrimmage victory. “It’s the Stanley Cup Final, you better be ready.”
Christian Ehrhoff is back in game shape after sustaining a shoulder injury in Game 3 against San Jose. The defenseman sat out Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference Finals but will be ready to play in the fourth round.
“I’ve been off the ice for a little bit and it was definitely fun to get back out there and to play in a game-like situation,” said Ehrhoff after practice.
The blueliner had the chance to work on his shot while skating on the first power play unit.
“I thought it looked pretty good today,” Ehrhoff smiled, adding that he feels no lingering limitations following his injury.
Manny Malhotra set the hockey world buzzing on Saturday, announcing that he has been medically cleared to play in the Stanley Cup Final. The veteran leader is still “day-to- day” but is focused on getting up to game speed.
“It’s just a matter of conditioning, seeing how I feel, the pace of play, and again, making sure that I’m comfortable and confident enough to make sure I’m protecting myself and being safe out there,” said Malhotra after participating in the team scrimmage.
The centreman skated with a full face shield and spent part of practice working on faceoffs.
“It’s technique, it’s timing, it’s getting into a rhythm,” said Malhotra, explaining the many considerations that lead to his expertise. Being able to go against some really good faceoff men in Kes and Hank and Lappy helped me get some of that timing back.”
Malhotra will practice again tomorrow before any decision is be made regarding Wednesday’s lineup.
“If he is in the lineup we’re going to use him accordingly,” said Alain Vigneault on Monday. “He’s been a good player for our team and we’ll see how much he can chip in.”
Everybody loves Raymond. Nobody loves the dentist.
Unfortunately for the speedy Canucks forward, he could be spending a lot more time there in the near future.
Mason Raymond is sporting a somewhat less toothy grin since Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. The winger took a stick in the mouth during overtime courtesy of San Jose defenseman Niclas Wallin.
“I lost basically two and a half teeth and was wearing a mouth guard too,” said Raymond. “Made me scared to think about what would have happened if I wasn’t wearing a mouth guard.”
Raymond celebrated Vancouver’s win over San Jose to claim the Western Conference title by visiting the Canucks team dentist and he’ll need more work before all is said and done.
“There’s a chance of doing root canals later,” said Raymond, understandably less than excited. “I love spending time at the dentist in my spare time, it’s fun. Spent a couple hours in there now, might have to do a lot more hours later.”
At least Wallin didn’t knock out his sense of humour.
Quote of the Day
“I’m in the Stanley Cup Final now playing against the Boston Bruins, a team I was raised to hate so it’s pretty fun. If you were to tell me that at the beginning of the year I would not have believed.”
-- Maxim Lapierre