The Canucks were back on the ice this morning following their 1-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes last night. The players are already looking ahead, focusing on their match up against division rivals, the Minnesota Wild tomorrow.
Pavol Demitra who has missed eight games after suffering a fractured rib during the team's six-game road trip in October, skated by himself before the team practiced.
“He’s been skating on his own here, the last four days, so we’re hoping that we can possibly get him into Monday’s practice, I think we’re shooting for right now," said head coach Alain Vigneault.
Young, forward Jannik Hansen
was sidelined with a groin injury during the Canucks' exciting 7-6 shoot out win in Anaheim may slot back into the line up this weekend. Hansen played in 11 games, tallying 3 goals and 4 assists before the game against the Ducks.
Alex Burrows was absent from practice this morning, but will play in tomorrow's game.
“He’s had some soreness there on his hip flexor, so he’s just resting today, he’ll be fine tomorrow," said Vigneault.FINDING THEIR STRIDE
The Canucks started out the season with a disappointing road trip, but have stepped up their game with two consecutive shut out wins over Nashville and Phoenix at home. Captain and star netminder Roberto Luongo
is in his zone, the penalty kill has improved drastically, and offence seems to be coming from everywhere.
“Everybody knows Roberto as well as I do, with his work ethic and his willingness to be the best that he can be, sooner or later he was going to find his game," said Vigneault. "Obviously right now his game is good and we need it to continue to be good if we intend to win games. Tomorrow we’re playing against a team that’s in first in our division and we’re looking forward to that game.”
The team built around their solid goaltending and blueline have been generating impressive scoring opportunities and the players continue to work on improving their special teams.
“We’re generating chances so that’s a great thing, even though we pride ourselves on defensive play we’ve been able to generate some scoring chances and we’ve been able to generate some goals more importantly," said Luongo. "So, that’s a good sign and guys are feeling good about what we’ve done so far.”
“With the personnel that we have here, we think our penalty killing should be obviously in the top third of the league," said Vigneault. "And with the personnel that we have we think that our power play should be better than it is right now also. So when you need some improvement you got to spend some time on it. We’ve been spending a lot of time on ice and we’ve been spending a lot of time in the video room on it. I’m confident that with hard work everything falls into place and the same thing will happen there.”SKYS THE LIMIT
The Canucks success has come as a result of the team getting back to their game plan, focusing on their strengths, and sharing the offensive roles. The sole goal of last night's game came of d-man Kevin Bieksa
, who after sustaining a mild knee sprain at the beginning of the season has been playing at the top of his game.
“I’ve always just tried to be a rounded defenceman," said Bieksa. "I want to be good at every part of the game so I kind of work on every part of my game. Offence, obviously when you can chip in it helps out the team."
The blueline has been quick to jump up on the rush and is making an effort to shoot more from the point.
“Before the season we looked at our defence core and we thought that we could contribute here offensively," said Bieksa. "It helps out our team a lot, it brings another dimension to the attack, and takes a little bit of stress of the forwards. I’ve seen a lot of contributions from the defenceman, Willie Mitchell even got a couple points here and there, so it’s a help.”
The players are far from complacent after their recent success in front of a home crowd and are sticking to their game plan when they face off against Minnesota tomorrow night.
“[Playing the Wild is] much like Boston that we had here last week," said Bieksa. "It’s patience with the puck, it’s not pushing it into where they want you to bring it, into their trap. We talked a little bit about it today, worked on it a bit and it’s just going to be making good decisions and controlling the puck.”