GAME DAY IN MONTREAL
Canuck captain Roberto Luongo
, with eight straight wins under his belt, leads the team into the Bell Centre for battle tonight. A rematch between the Canadiens (31-22-7) and the Canucks (30-21-8), who won their last meeting on February 15th at GM Place.
Tonight’s lineup will not feature any changes. Jannik Hansen
is on the injured reserve list, his finger was fractured in the game against Ottawa last week and has been reset by doctors in Vancouver. The Danish winger is reportedly out for 3-4 weeks. Hordichuk is in Vancouver with his wife and their newborn son.
Alexandre Bolduc was recalled from Manitoba to fill in for the missing forwards. The Montreal native who grew up 15 minutes away from the Bell Centre, will play on the fourth line with Mason Raymond
and Ryan Johnson.
“It’s crazy,” said Bolduc. “It’s been a dream of mine [to play in my hometown]. My family has had season tickets since I was eight years old, so it’s pretty special. I’m getting a lot of phone calls. My family’s just ecstatic. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The Canucks, currently fifth in the Western Conference, have come a long way from their January slump, rallying to an 8-1-0 record in February. The players are finding ways to win games and continue to work in practice to improve in all areas.
In four of their last six wins the Canucks have battled back from deficits to win, making for exciting hockey to watch and more importantly earning important points.
"It's tough to put your finger on what it is, but on the bench there is such a different feeling right now," said Henrik Sedin
"In those games against Calgary and Toronto, we just knew we could come back. It's things you go through as a hockey player, and things you can't seem to explain.
"During that losing streak we were up in a lot of games. I mean, we were winning 3-1 but even with the lead there wasn't a good feeling on the bench. Now we get down a couple goals and we start scoring."
Although the team has improved to 5-16-1 when trailing after two periods they will look to come out strong in the first and keep the intensity level up for 60 minutes as they are 18-0-3 when leading after two.
Head coach Alain Vigneault, a native of Quebec, will be the first to admit that there are areas for improvement, but he is happy with the continued progression in the last few weeks. In addition to special teams, Vigneault is focused on increasing shots on net.
"Just look at the tying goal we got in Toronto," said Vigneault. "That's not a typical Sedin play. They threw it there with Burrows in front. Slowly but surely we're getting it through to our guys to have more of a Detroit mindset. They come in and they whiff everything at the net. Those scrambles, they are tough to defend. I'm hoping our Swedes are starting to realize that."
A strong start will be especially important playing against the Montreal squad that seems to have kicked their slump with a 5-3 win over Ottawa on Saturday. The Canadiens are 21-1-1 when leading after two periods. The Habs power play received a boost after re-acquiring Mathieu Schneider and has gone on a 7-for-12 tear in the last three games.TRADE DEADLINE
GM Mike Gillis has told reporters that he is happy with the make-up of his team and expects the March 4th NHL Trade Deadline to be a quiet day.
"We think we have a good team here and playing pretty well," said Gillis. "Our goaltending is becoming really solid again, so, unless we have an opportunity to do something we feel is a big improvement, we're probably going to be real quiet.
"I felt the whole season we were building toward something and if we got Mats that may be our biggest sort of move we can make. It really has changed the dynamic of our team to control the faceoff circle much more. Getting him has really solidified our group in our mind and lessened the impetus to do a lot at the deadline."
Check out Trade Deadline Central
, your one stop shop for everything deadline as the date approaches.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.