CANUCKS ICE SAME LINE UPSami Salo
did not skate this morning and will not play tonight as the Canucks take on the Blackhawks in Game #4. Ossi Vaananen will play his third game this postseason in Salo's place.
"It's not like riding a bike," said Vaananen. "It's not the easiest thing to do, that's for sure. I just have to keep myself physically and mentally ready. Once you get into the game it's fine. It goes by itself."
"He's a very valuable guy for us," said Mattias Ohlund. "People don't realize when you haven't played a lot of games it's very hard coming in, especially this time of the year."
Salo skated on his own in Vancouver Tuesday before joining the Canucks in Chicago but didn’t practice with the team on Wednesday instead working out off the ice. Head coach Alain Vigneault is still calling Salo day to day.
With Pavol Demitra is still out with an undisclosed injury, Vigneault's line up will be the same as Game #3.
Taylor Pyatt will remain in the line up playing on the third line with Steve Bernier and Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond
, who scored his first playoff goal to open scoring on Tuesday, will stay on the second line with Ryan Kesler
and Mats Sundin.
Pyatt returned to the lineup Tuesday, his first game back since the beginning of April and lead the team with four shots and three blocks.
"I felt I was mentally coming around," said Pyatt. "I was getting focused to play. The time came and it worked out good.
"I didn't feel like I was rushed back at all. I felt I was ready to step in and play and I felt the team needed me to step in and play. Pretty much it was getting back here and being with the guys which was the best therapy I could have."WINNING FORMULA
The Canucks earned a win in Game #3 in front of the sold out United Centre and regained the series lead, but are not getting ahead of themselves and will be sticking to their game plan.
"There's not one team in this league that's good enough just to go on offence," said Vigneault.
"You have the Stanley Cup champions from last year. Their top offensive forwards are their best defensive players. They back pressure better than anybody else. You look at Pavel Datsyuk, you look at Zetterberg. The only way to win in this league is to play hard at both ends of the rink. If you do that, you give yourself a chance."
The defence-first, hard working identity of the Canucks has served them well when they execute it properly for a full 60-minute.
Playing without Salo, the Canucks blueline was solid spreading out the extra minutes, clogging up the shooting lanes and keeping the skilled Blackhawks forwards to the parameter, limiting them to 24 shots.
"We all upped our game and the guys played really well in front of me," said Roberto Luongo
. "It made my job a lot easier."
The Sedins lead the Canucks with eight points each and combine for a plus-seven rating this postseason, exemplifying the team’s focus on playing hard at both ends of the rink. The twins capitalize of offensive chances that are created by solid defensive play.
"That's always been our focus, not to hurt the team," said Daniel Sedin
. "It suits us. We're not the fastest guys, we're not going to beat many guys one-on-one. We'd rather play a defensive style and take care of business in our end."
The Blackhawks look to jump to a quick start and score the first goal, something they haven't done yet this series, so the Canucks will need to be sharp from the puck drop to prevent Chicago from gaining control.
Tonight’s game faces off at 5:00pm PST and can be seen coast-to-coast on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, on RDS for French-language viewers, and on VERSUS for fans in the United States.FANTASY HOCKEY:
Check out Canucks Fantasy Hockey
, a free online game that allows you to play against other Vancouver Canucks fans as you attempt to earn the most points during each of the Vancouver Canucks' 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs hockey games.