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Canucks Report: First impressions

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
September 21, 2011

Canucks split openers vs. Flames

By Derek Jory

Marco Sturm and Nicklas Jensen both had debuts to remember.

Sturm, the rugged 13-year NHL veteran of 890 games, scored and tallied an assist in the first period, and Jensen, the baby faced rookie making his first appearance in an NHL game, scored the game-winner seven minutes into the third period as the Vancouver Canucks clipped the Calgary Flames 4-3 Tuesday night at Rogers Arena in the pre-season opener for both teams.

Chris Tanev and Jordan Schroeder rounded out the scoring for the Canucks; Schroeder, Jensen and Steve Pinizzotto each had a multi-point game to help Vancouver rally from two one-goal deficits.

Cory Schneider and Eddie Lack split the game in net for the Canucks playing nearly 30 minutes each. The pair combined for 29 saves with Lack pacing the way not allowing any goals on 12 shots. Schneider made 17 saves.

Jensen delivers

Nicklas could all but hear his dad Dan cheering from Denmark.

It would have been nearing 6 a.m. in Denmark for Dan, but he wasn’t about to miss his son’s first true outing in a Canucks uniform.

“He’s probably really happy back home, there’s probably a message or two on the phone right now,” said an elated Jensen after displaying moves like jagger in scoring his first professional goal, the eventual game-winner.

Jensen used poise and patience beyond his years after he gathered a puck behind the Calgary goal before swinging out front and rifling a shot past two defenders and top shelf on Flames goaltender Leland Irving.

This won’t be the last time the rookie has his arms in the air in celebration.

“I don’t even know what to say, that’s of course what I was hoping for, to get a point or two, and luckily I did. I don’t even know what to say, it’s unbelievable, I’m so happy right now."

Notes from Tuesday night's home game in Vancouver: The Canucks held a moment of silence pre-game in memoriam of fallen Canucks Barry Wilkins, Pavol Demitra and Rick Rypien, who all passed away this summer; Maxim Lapierre, Aaron Rome and Keith Ballard all sported an ‘A’ as assistant captains; Aaron Volpatti and Steve Pinizzotto combined for 11 hits.

Flames 5 Canucks 1

I'm not Michael Keaton from Multiplicity? I can’t be two places at once. (Don’t understand that reference? Didn’t see that movie? How come no one told me it was terrible?) Anyways, in the other Canucks/Flames game Tuesday night in Calgary, the Flames came out on top 5-1.

A veteran-laden Flames team, with upwards of 12 projected roster players in the line-up to five for the Canucks, scored 47 seconds into the first period and added two more in the frame to take a 3-0 lead. Mark Mancari made it a 3-1 early in the second, but Calgary iced it with two power play goals in the third.

Manny Legace allowed three goals on 22 shots in 30:51 before Matt Climie stopped 8 of 10 pucks in 29:09. Final shots favoured the Flames 32-24, while penalty minutes were lopsided for the Canucks 34-14.

Wednesday's news

Three groups of Canucks practiced Wednesday, but Vancouver did not show its hand as far as how the team will look Thursday night in Edmonton, nor did coach Alain Vigneault give away anything when addressing the media.

Here's a rundown of the newsworthy items:

-Could Mike Modano have suited up for the Canucks this season? Vigneault revealed that Vancouver discussed the possibility of bringing the veteran, who was drafted first overall (one spot ahead of Trevor Linden) in 1988, to camp this year. The Canucks were simply unclear where Modano was in terms of retiring or playing (he retired Wednesday). “Lorne called him up, I want to say three weeks ago, but I could be wrong, to find out and investigate. I mean Mike was one of the best players in the league at one time and with the possibilities and the injuries we have we weren’t sure, but we gave him a call and he said he was retiring.”

-How do you judge a prospect in pre-season action? Thank goodness that’s not a task assigned to you or I. Vigneault and his coaching staff have got it covered. “Obviously we are comparing our young players to other teams young players and how close we feel they are to our veteran players. You do that during these exhibition games, you do that through the practices. Sometimes in the practices you have scrimmages so it’s a pretty simple assessment you can hopefully make in the couple weeks that your given during training camp you can come up with a fair assessment of where the players are.”

-After the Canucks lost Raffi Torres and Tanner Glass to free agency, Vancouver needed players who could step in and fill those rolls. Hello Steve Pinizzotto. From Mike Gillis downward, everyone thought he’d fit the bill and the Canucks are liking what they see. “Our pro scouts had a list of guys that could bring that energy, and physical dimension and possibly come in and be able to play. And he was one of those guys that they had identified. I didn’t really know what to expect, except a physical presence and a guy that would bring a lot of energy, I’m happily surprised with his skill set.”

-When pressed about if he feels a player in their late 20s can be as true a rookie as someone in their late teens or early 20s, Vigneault said Tanner Glass comes to mind as a guy no one expected to do what he did at his age.

-Ryan Parent is stuck in the numbers game. The Canucks have a lot of guys for not a lot of spots. Vigneault said for Parent to continue to get the attention of the coaching staff, he needs to sit in a chair. “You’re either an offensive defenceman, you’re a defensive defenceman or you’re a tough defenceman. You’ve got to be able to sit in one of those chairs. Right now we’re hoping Ryan will want to sit in one of those chairs, do it consistently.”

-Although he didn’t name an exact time, Vigneault said some roster trimming decisions will be made post-practice Friday, with another round of cuts coming after the back-to-back games this weekend.

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