SPECIAL TEAMS FOCUS
Kyle Wellwood was absent from practice today as he is suffering from the flu. Head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters following the team skate that they’ll see how he’s feeling tomorrow before making any lineup decisions for Saturday.
The team spent over an hour on the ice, running drills that focused on special teams, an area the Canucks look to improve this month.
“I think obviously the morale today was better [after Tuesday’s win] and practice was good,” said Vigneault. “Everybody’s focused and working on getting ready for a very strong opponent in Chicago, come Saturday.
“Obviously we’re concerned [about the penalty kill]. That’s an area that we’ve always been, since I’ve been here, very, very good and it’s been a difference maker in a lot of our games as far as getting in the losing column. We have to do a better job there without a doubt.
“Penalty killing is goaltending, it’s players blocking shots and blocking lanes, and getting the puck down the ice when they get the opportunity. All areas that I’ve just mentioned are areas we need to improve on.
“That’s one of our trademarks. We’re a good penalty killing team, that’s why we’re capable of playing with an edge, because when we do take some penalties we’re able to kill them. Obviously in the past month we haven’t done the job that we need to do. And that’s one of the major reasons we got in that funk.”
The Canucks opened February with a big win over Carolina, ending their slump and look to continue improving as the playoff streak fast approaches. The players are focused on the moving forward and playing to their strengths.
"The next few days here we need to practice hard, make sure we do things right and translate it to Saturday night and try to have a similar start as we did last game," said Roberto Luongo
"I think penalty killing is like anything else, right now obviuosly it's struggling and maybe we're thinking too much out there instead of just going out there and letting it happen. We can't really think about the fact that we've given up some goals the last few games, we just have to go out there and work hard and work with a purpose."
The team takes on Chicago Saturday at GM Place beforing heading out to play seven of their next eight on the road.ADDING DEPTH
Three and a half months after defenceman Nathan McIver was claimed off waivers by the Anaheim Ducks, the Canucks re-acquired the well-liked blueliner, trading forward Mike Brown to the Ducks.
“He’s going to start in Manitoba,” said Vigneault. “We got him for depth. In our minds Nathan McIver is a seventh, eighth, ninth defenceman in an organizational depth chart, depending on he is playing. I think in your depth chart you need to have a tough defenceman that you can call up and you need to have a puck-moving defenceman that you can call up, depending on who gets hurt and who can’t play on your team. For me, he’s the toughness part.”
With the trade, the Canucks decreased their roster to 22 players, one less than the NHL maximum. They have one extra forward and one extra defenceman. D-man Lawrence Nycholat and forward Rick Rypien remain on IR.