SALO IN, BAUMER OUT
It was confirmed today after the Canucks morning skate that Sami Salo is back in the lineup and will play in today's game against the Montreal Canadiens. He will replace Nolan Baumgartner and skate with Alex Edler.
"He’s been able to practice a couple of times now and he’s pain free again this morning so he’s ready to go," said Alain Vigneault.
Ryan Johnson is also back in the lineup after missing the last game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He will skate with Darcy Hordichuk and Rick Rypien, leaving Tanner Glass out of the lineup for today's game.
GAME DAY NOTES
This is the second and last time the Canucks and the Canadiens will play each other this season. The first game on October 7 ended in an impressive 7-1 victory over the Canadiens.
The Canucks’ top lines dominated with two goals from Henrik Sedin, and one each from Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond, Mikael Samuelsson, and Alex Burrows.
The Canucks have won their last seven games, including a comeback last Saturday against the Maple Leafs. The last time the Canucks won seven straight was in the 2006-07 season from December 26-January 7. The win increased the Canucks point total to 70 - four points up on the Colorado Avalanche.
“It’s tight,” said Roberto Luongo. “There’s a lot of good teams not only in our division but in our conference. We feel like almost every game is so important and it is. We’re playing well right now and we want to keep it going. When you’re on a streak like that you always want to keep it going as long as you can.”
Luongo will start again tonight after being pulled last game against Toronto. Luongo has been pulled three times this season but seems to get right back up for the next game. He is 3-0 with a .943 save percentage and a 1.33 goals-against average in the games that followed him being pulled.
“It doesn’t happen very often that we have to take him out of games,” said Alain Vigneault. “Every time that we’ve had since he’s been here, he’s bounced back extremely well and that’s what we expect tonight.”
The Canadiens (25-25-6) have lost their last three games and are currently tied for ninth place in the East with the Atlanta Thrashers. Their last match against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday was a close call but ended in overtime when Mike Fisher scored the winning goal making it 3-2.
Montreal will have to play without forward Michael Cammalleri who was sidelined last game against the Senators, injuring his knee and won’t be back for six to eight weeks. Cammalleri has 48 points (26-22-28) in 56 games this season.
The Canucks hope to bring in another win to extend their longest streak of the season, and are especially excited to play in Montreal.
“I think for players it’s one of the best buildings to play in because of the atmosphere that you have in here,” said Vigneault. “Original six teams so obviously for them they have a great fan base and a great support.”
HODGSON TO RETURN TO OHL
Canuck prospect Cody Hodgson is likely to return to the lineup for OHL’s Brampton Battalion on Thursday after being out with back problems for four months.
Hodgson played six of nine Canucks’ pre-season games but “complained that he didn’t have the necessary explosiveness in his right leg due to a bulging disc impinging on a nerve,” wrote Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun.
Hodgson underwent months of physiotherapy but didn’t start to improve until he received a cortisone injection in December. Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman was happy to hear the news of Hodgson’s return.
”We’re certainly happy that Cody will resume his playing career in the OHL this week,” Gilman told Pap. “He has informed us that he now feels ready to play. It’s been a long road for him. He’s worked extremely hard to get back to this point and he feels he is 100 per cent ready to resume his career.”
Hodgson was the Canucks 2008 first round draft pick at the NHL Entry draft and last season’s CHL player of the year. He had 92 points (43-49-92) in 53 games, a +41 rating and 33 penalty minutes.