OB OUT UNTIL SUNDAY
Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault has confirmed that defenceman Shane O'Brien will not practice or travel with the team on their upcoming two game road trip.
"There's more to this than just yesterday's incident," said Vigneault. "We have a plan for Shane O'Brien. He will not be practicing with the team or be with the team until Sunday. His situation will be re-evaluated then."
The decision was made after O'Brien was late for practice Monday. He did not skate with the team today and will not be in the lineup tonight when the Canucks play the Phoenix Coyotes. Andrew Alberts will be back in the lineup skating with Christian Ehrhoff after being scratched the last five games.
"It's a good opportunity for all of us to learn from this and not make the same mistake, that's life," said Darcy Hordichuk.
All of lines from last game against the San Jose Sharks are in tact.
MARK RYPIEN DROPS IN
The infamous Mark Rypien, cousin of Canuck forward Rick Rypien, visited at today's practice. He shared how proud he is of his cousin playing in the NHL and for a Canadian team.
"He was five years old skirting around the streets in Minneapolis in the super bowl, and to get a chance to see things come 360 and get an opportunity to see his profession and what he does, we're very proud," said Mark.
Mark was the first Canadian born quarterback to play in the National Football League.
"It was good, it was impressive, just to be a part of it," said Rick. "At that age it's tough to follow his career, but you look back at it now and it's pretty remarkable."
GAME DAY NOTES
The Canucks are looking to set a new franchise record for home wins tonight when they play their fourth and final game this season against the Phoenix Coyotes. Their previous match was the last of the Canucks epic 14 game road trip that ended in a 4-3 shootout loss to the desert dogs.
The Coyotes have had an impressive record since the Olympic break winning nine of their first 10 games back. They now sit fourth in the West and second in the Pacific division with 100 points (47-23-6), four points shy of the first place San Jose Sharks (47-49-10).
"The fact that they work extremely hard and have good work ethic are probably two of the biggest things," said Alex Burrows. "They never quit, they are always on the defensive side of things. We just have to match their work ethic and I think maybe our skills can take over."
The Canucks (45-26-4) still hold third in the West and first in their division with 94 points, five ahead of the Colorado Avalanche (41-27-7). They have scored 244 goals this season, second best in their conference, and are tied for first for most home wins with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Coyotes, all with 27.
Last season the Coyotes ended in 13th place in the West and have not clinched a playoff spot since the 2001-2002 season. This season they’ve progressed and reached the 100 point mark for the first time in franchise history.
The Coyotes are 8-1-1 in their last ten including two recent road losses and are third-worst in the league for power play percentage. On the other hand they lead the NHL in goals scored by defenceman (40) and have averaged the fewest goals against out of all NHL teams with 2.34.
Coyote goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is first in the league for shutouts with eight, second for wins with 40, and fifth for GAA with 2.28.
"A lot of it has to do with the way the team plays defence, he [Bryzgalov] seems to get a lot of confidence off that," said Kyle Wellwood. "It just builds with the season when your team's playing well in front of you."
Henrik Sedin (28-73-101) is only one point ahead of Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (46-54-100) for league leader in points but still leads the league in assists with a comfortable seven assist lead over San Jose Shark’s Joe Thornton.
The Canucks second line of Ryan Kesler (22-46-68), Mason Raymond (23-26-49), and Michael Grabner (2-4-6) is still looking to contribute more points after being left off the score sheet Saturday against the Sharks.
"We're both teams that will do the little things and work hard and play good structure," said Wellwood. "We expect a tight game tonight. It's just a matter of our skilled players making a difference."