DEMITRA BACK IN VAN
Pavol Demitra returned to Vancover on Monday for personal reasons and may not rejoin the Canucks for the remainder of their roadtrip.
Demitra (1-3-4) has been excelling of late, scoring his first goal since returning to the ice after his injury against the Boston Bruins last Saturday, and scoring the winning goal in shootout.
This brings Steve Bernier (11-9-20) back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch last game against the Bruins.
Jannik Hansen returned to the Canucks on Monday after a five game conditioning stint with the Manitoba Moose and will dress today.
Brad Lukowich is also back in the lineup after missing last game against Boston. Healthy scratches for today are Ryan Johnson and Nolan Baumgartner.
GAME DAY NOTES
The Canucks play their fifth road game today against the Tampa Bay Lightning for the only time this season. With the Colorado Avalanche (33-19-6) now tied in points and the Canucks (35-20-2) with a game in hand, hope to earn another two points in order to retake their sole possession of first place in the Northwest division.
Last season the Lightning missed the playoffs and suffered a 2-1 defeat against the Canucks but have turned it around this season.
The Lightning have won their last three games including a 2-1 overtime win over the Calgary Flames last Saturday with a winning goal by Andrej Meszaros. The Canucks defeated the Boston Bruins Saturday in shootout when Pavol Demitra got one past Bruin goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Tampa Bay currently sits in second place in the Southeast division and eighth in the East with 61 points (25-21-11). Last season, they were the worst team at home only winning 12 (12-18-11) but have stepped it up this time around and are 16-6-6 at home.
The Canucks are tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for first place for home wins with 23, but are only 12-13-1 on the road; and with three away games left and six coming up after the Olympic break, the Canucks hope to bring their home success to the road.
The Canucks top line made up of Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and Alex Burrows have been held off the score sheet for the last two game but know that it’s just something that happens in the flow of the long season.
“There are going to be times during the season where you are not going to feel your best, and you are not going to be 100 per cent,” said Henrik. “Some of those times you are going to keep scoring and get a goal here or there, but this time we haven’t scored for three games, so we have to get back to it, plain and simple.”
With a few lineup changes and Pavol Demitra’s absence, the Canucks hope to stick it out and end the Lightning’s three game winning streak today.
GETZLAF A QUESTION MARK FOR TEAM CANADA
With the 2010 Winter Olympics just days away, the Olympic hockey teams have until February 15 to make any last minute changes to their roster. The recent ankle injury of Anaheim Ducks centre Ryan Getzlaf poses a possible dilemma for Team Canada.
The 6’4”, 220lbs Regina, Saskatchewan native sprained his left ankle during the second period of the Ducks’ 4-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, but it is not determined how long he will be out.
Getzlaf (15-42-57) left the game on crutches and in a walking boot and will undergo an MRI today.
Team Canada coach for the 2010 Olympics, Mike Babcock may have to make a call for a replacement if Getzlaf isn’t back in time for the games.
Talk of possible replacements include Philidelphia Flyers’ Jeff Carter, who was the final forward considered for the team, but who’s spot was taken by teammate Mike Richards. Carter is 23-25-48 this season. Three Lightning forwards could be possible candidates, Martin St Louis (18-45-63), Steven Stamkos (32-29-61), and Vincent Lecavalier (15-40-55).
Though St Louis has the most points out of the three and more than Carter, he is also the smallest standing at 5’9” and 177lbs. The most similar players in size to Getzlaf would be Lecavalier (6’4”, 223lbs), and Carter (6’3”, 200lbs), but things will not be set in stone until the timeline of Getzlaf’s return is known.
The Men’s Preliminary Round begins on February 16 when Team Canada faces Norway.