SCHNEIDER MEETS THE WILD
The Canucks have an opportunity to regain first place in the Northwest Division with a win tonight in Minnesota. The Wild are sitting at the top of the pack, only one point ahead of the Canucks who are 2-0 against the Wild this year.
Tonight is a big night in the tight division with the top four teams, the Canucks, Wild, Oilers and Flames all in action. Vancouver under the leadership of Vigneault has only lost four consecutive games once before in March of last year and are eager to kick their losing streak.Cory Schneider
will get the start tonight, playing his first game against the division rivals. Sanford is 4-2-0 with a shutout and a 2.54 GAA in eight career games against Minnesota. Schneider replaced Sanford after Detroit netted their sixth goal at 6:08 in the third period, and stopped five shots in last night’s 6-5 loss.
"Curtis is like a lot of our players," said Vigneault. "I think a lot of guys can play better, and considering the situation that we're in right now where we've lost quite a few in a row here, to come out of this guys need to bring their 'A' game to the table. He's no different."
The Canucks look to get back to their solid defensive play, making better decisions in both zones.
"Our defensive awareness and decision-making and some of the plays... we made some bad decisions whether it be with the puck and we turned it over or some reads that we don't normally make," said Vigneault. "They are the defending champions so they'll make you pay and they made us pay. But scoring five goals on the road should be enough to win the game."
The Canucks will face the Wild’s goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who sports a .924 save percentage and a 2.27 goals-against average while starting 22 of the Wild's 24 games.
The team generated offence from all of the lines and look to carry the momentum into tonight's match up. Yesterday's scoring came from Taylor Pyatt, Mason Raymond
, Alex Burrows, Henrik Sedin
, and Kyle Wellwood, who now has 11 goals and has scored in three consecutive games.
“It still feels pretty good in [the dressing room],” said Raymond. “I think obviously it’s a little bit disappointing, it’s a tough pill to swallow to get some losses but as a group it feels good. We know we’re close. We’ve just got to fix a few things. Special teams is key right now. I think we’re taking a few too many penalties and we’ve got to put out on the power play a few more chances and we’re back on track.”
A few players hit milestones last night. Steve Bernier registered his 100th point with his assist on Pyatt’s goal. While defenceman Shane O'Brien had two assists for the first multi-point game of his NHL career.LUONGO INCHING CLOSER
Injured star goaltender and Canuck captain Roberto Luongo
has moved to the next stage of his recovery from a groin injury. For almost an hour Thursday, Luongo was on ice at Joe Louis Arena and taking controlled shots from goaltender consultant Ian Clark.
"Obviously, it is another step in the right direction," said Luongo. "We are still in a somewhat controlled environment even though I am facing pucks. So like I said a few days ago, it's little steps at a time. You want to make sure you are 100 per cent strength-wise before you get into practice and stuff where things are not always under control and you might have to be forced to make a move that is out of your range or something like that."
The plan calls for Luongo to begin taking controlled shots from some of his teammates, possibly as early as this weekend.
"I think it's speculative," Clark said. "It really is a day-by-day thing. He had a couple of moments today where he felt the strain and I think it's really a matter of where he is tomorrow. How does he react to everything we did today."
Vancouver (14-10-2) were 8-0-2 in the 10 games before Luongo sustained the injury in the game against Pittsburgh. Luongo had won five of seven starts, compiling a 0.97 goals-against average. Without their captain the Canucks have struggle to get back into their rhythm, going 1-4-0.
Left winger Darcy Hordichuk missed his second straight game with a left foot fracture. Hordichuk, who is still wearing a protective boot off the ice, skated for nearly an hour Thursday morning and hopes to play tonight against the Wild.
"We didn't want to go back to back," Hordichuk said. "It felt pretty good today and I think we're on the right track." 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.