Mason Raymond returned to practice today, after sitting out yesterday to tend to a sore hand.
“I’ll be in tonight; it was a maintenance day more than anything.”
Raymond is slotted to play in his regular second line spot, with Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson.
Raymond’s good health comes as great news to the team, who are already dealing with five injured players. Sami Salo (ankle) and Alex Burrows (shoulder) have been out since the summer. Alex Bolduc (ankle), Keith Ballard (concussion), and Dan Hamhuis (foot) also remain out of the line up. Still no updates on when these players will return.
“Until a player is cleared to play medically, there’s not much we can do,” said Alain Vigneault. “Once he is cleared we have to find out how his conditioning is, how his timing is on the ice. Health is always the premiere issue.”
After tonight’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver does not play again for six days, until November 1st. Although the long break so early in the season is not always an ideal situation, it’ll benefit the Canucks.
“For us, with the number of injuries we have right now, this is a good schedule,” said Vigneault. “In the sense that you can give the guys all the time they need to heal.”
The Vancouver Canucks face the Colorado Avalanche in the first of six meetings this season. Last season, Colorado won their first matchup with a shoot-out, but the Canucks held a 4-2-0 season record over Colorado.
Both teams are hoping to break the .500 mark tonight. Vancouver is 3-3-2 after a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild, while the Avalanche are 4-4-0, and currently on a two game losing streak.
Vancouver tied for the most win on home ice last season and has 13 goals in four home games.
“We play good here,” said Henrik Sedin. “We like playing in front of our fans, and we have to continue that and we have to get better on the road.”
Henrik is currently tied for most assists in the league (10) with Colorado defenceman John-Michael Liles.
In the Canucks last game, secondary scoring played a large role in the game as the third line, consisting of Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen, accounted for three of the five goals and seven of 15 points that night.
“We need secondary scoring, we need our D’s chipping in,” said Vigneault. “This is such a competitive league, the games are all hard fought from start to finish. Our goal is to win, and to win on a consistent basis you need contributions from everybody, there’s no doubt about that, you can’t have the same players scoring every night.”
“[Colorado’s] got a great transition game, with D’s involved in every part of their game, from breakouts, to jumping out in plays, to being involved in offensive zone plays. So it will be a real good test for us.”
The Avs defence accounts for 15 points in eight games, including leading scorer Liles’ 10 points.
Roberto Luongo returns to the net tonight, after missing the last two home games. He has a 2.92 GAA and a .903 SV%.
“They’re a very young and quick team,” he said. “It’s a team you don’t want to make any mistakes against. Especially turnover wise, because they’re gone the other way, with their speed, and they’re going to create some offence. We have to play good system wide, take advantage of their mistakes, and maybe get a goal on the power play.”
Colorado will be playing their backup goaltender, Peter Budaj tonight. Budaj won the one game he played this season and has a GAA of 3.69 and a .857% SV%.
Puck drops tonight at 7:00 in Rogers Arena, on Canucks.com or on Sportsnet Pacific.
RING OF HONOUR
Tonight the Canucks celebrate the first of four Ring of Honour nights, when they make Orland Kurtenbach, the team’s first captain, the first inductee. The Ring of Honour intiative is part of the celebration of 40 years of Canucks.
Kurtenbach served as the Canucks captain from their start in 1970 to his retirement in 1974. Playing in Vancouver put new life in the centre’s career. He scored 21 goals and 32 assists in the team’s first season, a career high, and he topped in the following year with 24 goals and 27 assists.
Kurtenback is still remembered today as possessing leadership other players aspire to display, and as one of the toughest players to ever wear a Canucks sweater. He makes an excellent choice to begin a new Canuck tradition.