CANUCKS IN COLORADO
The Canucks (39-25-9) face off against the Colorado Avalanche (31-41-2) for the second of back-to-back games after a disappointing showing in St. Louis yesterday.
Lineup changes for tonight's game have not been confirmed, because the team did not skate this morning, due to the tight schedule.
However, goaltender Jason LaBarbera is expected to get the start in net tonight as the Canuck take of the Avs, a team they will meet twice more down the final stretch. When asked last night if LaBarbera would start on Friday, head coach Alain Vigneault hinted that it was likely.
"If I was a betting man, I'd say yes," said Vigneault.
LaBarbera has played in eight games with the Canucks this season, posting a 2-2-2 record with a 2.92 goals against average and .910 save percentage.
It is also likely that defenceman Shane O'Brien and forward Mason Raymond
will slot back into the lineup. If they do, it is expected that Ossi Vaananen will sit out with Rob Davison and either Jannik Hansen
or Darcy Hordichuk will be the other healthy scratch.
Hansen made his first appearance yesterday since being sidelined with a finger fracture on February 19th, slotting in for Raymond.
D-man Kevin Bieksa
appeared to tweak his knee at the end of yesterday's matchup, but is not expected to miss any time.
After going 16-3-1 from the beginning of February through to March 19th, the Canucks have struggled on the road, posting a 1-2-0 record to start their six-game trip. They are now 1-4-1 in their last six road games, a record they look to improve tonight.
Although the Colorado squad is currently last in the Western Conference with 64 points and have lost five straight, the Canucks know their roster is capable of burying pucks in the opponents' net.
“Right now we’re battling for a playoff spot and obviously we would like to get home-ice advantage,” said Alex Burrows. “Now we’ve got to put this one behind and focus on [tonight’s game]. Even though Colorado’s last in the standings, they’re still a dangerous team and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready.”
The Canucks remain in fifth position in the West with 87 points, two points back from Chicago, who have a game in hand, and three points behind Calgary. Vancouver is 1-0-2 against the Avs this season.RYPIEN JOINS TEAM
Forward Rick Rypien flew to St. Louis to join the Canucks and skated with teammates before Thursday's game against the Blues. He will remain with the team through the rest of the road trip.
"It's always been an open window for him to come in when he was ready," said associate coach Rick Bowness. "He has worked very, very hard away from the hockey club to get himself to this position, where he can take the next step. And that's to be with the hockey club and practice with us and be around the guys again. The next step is he'll let us know when he thinks he's ready to play.
"We're not going to force Ryp back in the lineup. He'll tell us when he's ready to go."
"We've been waiting for him for a long time, so it's great to have him back," said Alex Burrows. "He's a guy who's great in the room, a lot of energy and grit, physical player. We're really happy to have him back."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' regular season hockey games.