CANUCKS vs. DUCKS
The Canucks (42-25-9) host the Anaheim Ducks (39-32-6) tonight at GM Place, their last meeting of the season.
Both teams are rolling right now. The Canucks are firing on all cylinders down the stretch going 11-3-1 in March, lead by solid play of Roberto Luongo
, who reached the 30 win mark for the third consecutive year, despite missing 24 games with a groin injury.
Another reason behind the Canucks' recent success is the play of the top line. The Sedins and Alex Burrows have combined 52 points in March. Daniel tallied 18 points (5-13-18) last month, while Henrik added 19 (7-12-19) and Burrows another 15 (11-4-15).
The Vancouver squad claimed the Northwest division lead on Tuesday and hope to channel the momentum tonight against the Ducks, who look to strengthen their standing in the West.
“I think obviously [the Ducks’] goaltender right now is on a roll and that is part of any team having success,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “Their d-men are playing well, they’ve added some defencemen at the trading deadline and they’ve got balance.
“They’ve got one of the best lines in hockey with Getzlaf’s line with Ryan and Perry. Selanne right now is on a roll and the other lines are competing hard. That’s one of the best teams in hockey. They got off to a so-so start, but they’ve found their game lately and that’s why they’ve been winning the way they have.”
With 11 straight wins on home ice, the Canucks are focusing on one game at a time, and look to clinch their playoff spot with a win tonight.
“One game at a time, that’s been our motto for quite some time now, and it’s not going to change,” said Vigneault. “We need one more win to get a check mark by our name to get into the playoffs. That’s our first goal. And once we’ve achieved that goal, if there’s a possibility for home ice, which there seems to be, we’ll shift our focus to that.”
The Canucks are sitting in third place in the Western Conference, but are not caught up in their dramatic rise.
“It’s nice, we’ve been working hard the last couple months to get where we are,” said Luongo. “But at the same time there’s still six games left in the year and by no means do we have anything accomplished. We’ve still got to keep the foot on the pedal and make sure we’re full throttle until the end of the year.
“We’re in a playoff push here and we’re fighting for our division so we get jacked up for any game you play. And we know the guys on the other side are in desperation mode as well so it’s going to make for a good playoff atmosphere tonight.”
Forward Rick Rypien returned to the Canucks’ lineup for the 2-1 overtime win over Minnesota and will play tonight. Vigneault will not make any changes to the blueline. Ossi Vaananen and Rob Davison will be healthy scratches. Mason Raymond
will be a game time decision.
Tonight’s game faces off at 7:00pm PST and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific.BURROWS 2010 CONSIDERATION
Alain Vigneault has always been an advocate of Alex Burrows, insisting that he brings something special to the group and he harbours more skill than he is often credited with. Promoted to the top line, Burrows has thrived, surpassing his career highs with 47 points (26-21-47) so far this season.
Steve Yzerman told BMac and Rintoul on the Team1040 radio station that Burrows is getting some attention in regards to Canada's 2010 Olympic team.
"We've got a relatively long list of players that, once the season is over, we'll sit down and discuss which guys out of that group we'll bring to Vancouver," said Yzerman. "And Alex's play this season has certainly merited - he's earned the right for us to watch him very closely.
"He's obviously someone I've taken note of with his play. The offensive production has increased this year to add to his play as a strong defensive guy and he's certainly someone I'm watching very closely. We'll see and we'll get a chance to watch Vancouver into the playoffs and see how they perform - but absolutely, he's a guy that we have to keep an eye on."
Burrows' Canuck teammates are not surprised he is generating buzz for the Olympic squad.
“He’s played unbelievable for us,” said Luongo. “He’s a character guy and works hard every day and it doesn’t surprise me. He brings a lot of different things to the table and he’s very valuable on any team.”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.