DEMITRA GETS OKAY
Pavol Demitra looked in fine form today skating alongside Ryan Kesler
and Mats Sundin at practice, a line that head coach Alain Vigneault wanted to test out before tomorrow night’s game against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.
Demitra has missed three games since tweaking his groin during the January 18th game against Columbus. The winger is eager to get back and help his team pull out of their current slump.
“I just got the clearance that Pavol will be okay tomorrow, so I wanted to test [the Kesler-Sundin-Demitra line] out today,” said Vigneault. “I’ll make that decision tomorrow, but it is a possibility right now.
Vigneault's lines and roster decisions will be made after he finishes watching game tapes of Carolina’s past two game.
“[Demitra] had some ups and he’s had some downs,” said Vigneault. “Pav’s got some very good offensive skill. He just needs to be a little bit more consistent and play with a little bit more fire. He and I have talked about having a more consistent line and he can have a more consistent line as long as we’re winning and he’s part of the contribution. We need Pavol Demitra to play up to his potential and hopefully that’s what he will start to do tomorrow.”
Taylor Pyatt continues to skate with the Sedins, while Jannik Hansen
practiced with Ryan Johnson and Darcy Hordichuk. Alex Burrows, Kesler’s former wing-man skated on a line with Steve Bernier and Kyle Wellwood.
Kesler does not expect to change his game if he plays with Sundin and Demitra on Tuesday. He will play to his role and bring the energy, grit, and agitating style that make him successful.
“I think me and Burr haven’t been good enough this year, I think last year we were probably better together,” said Kesler. “I think [Vigneault is] just trying to get us going.
“When you play with two players like Pavol and Mats, it’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around often and I’m just going to make the most of it.
“I think [Sundin] is having an impact, you guys just aren’t seeing it. I think you guys expected him to come in and have a goal a game, he’s more of a player than that. He’s big in this dressing room. We haven’t been playing well as a team and we’re going to turn it around.”
The Canucks sit in 11th in the Western Conference standings, but are only one regulation win away from being in sixth. With a healthy roster the team looks to bounce back from a hard fought overtime loss to division rivals the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Despite giving up two early goals, the Canucks showed a lot of upside, playing a physical, hard-working game.
“Obviously getting 40 shots and only three goals isn’t good enough,” said Kesler. “We had a lot of grade-A opportunities that we need to bury. The good thing is that we’re getting the chances and we’re getting the shots on net, so they’re going to start going in for us.”LINEUP FOR HURRICANES
D-man Shane O’Brien was a healthy scratch for Saturday's game against the Wild and may potentially sit out for Tuesday's game as well. The 25 year old, was not happy having to miss the action, but he is more than willing to improve his game to a higher level, that he feels he is capable of.
“I’m not saying I should be in there over Davi, I’m just say I need to be in a position where I can play and get better. That’s what every player wants," said O'Brien.
“They just wanted to know why I hadn’t been in a fight in a while and I said the situation just hasn’t come up. To be honest I was trying to improve on my play, stay out of the box, and just try to be a player. That’s what I want, I want people to say Shane O’Brien is a good solid defenceman and fights, not Shane O’Brien fighter and you can put him out for three minutes a night. It’s not fulfilling enough for me and I just want more out of my career and I’m going to work hard to get more."
Vigneault and his coaching staff also feel that O’Brien has potential to be much more than just a fighter. They think that the physical dimension of his game gives him an advantage of having more room and time to play the puck and that has been missing from his game as of late.
“He needs to play to his strengths and his strengths are he brings intensity and a physical presence on the ice,” said Vigneault. “We’ve got a lot of confidence in Shane’s abilities. He just needs to get back to playing a good, hard style and stay away from the little hooking and the penalties that put the team in trouble. I’m happy that he’s not happy and hopefully the next time he gets in the lineup he’ll play well for us.
“If that's what he heard [want him to be a fighter], then he misheard obviously. I was very specific with him when I addressed him that we need him to have that physical presence. We need the other team to know that when he’s on the ice the other team is aware of it.
“I’m not quite sure yet [if O’Brien will be a healthy scratch again], but at this time I liked Davison’s game last game, even though he didn’t play a lot. When he was on the ice I thought he was effective and he brought a physical dimension to his game.”Mason Raymond
and Mike Brown, officially the two fastest Canucks after Sunday’s Superskills competition, may be the odd men out for the game against the Hurricanes. Both will look to harness their speed and use it to their advantage contributing to the team, as the roster gets crowded with the return of Demitra.
D-man Lawrence Nycholat and forward Rick Rypien remain on the injured reserve. Nycholat is out with a groin injury and Rypien a sports hernia injury.
Willie Mitchell missed Sunday’s Superskills competition after being given the day off by management, but was back today for practice.