RJ SLOTS IN
Ryan Johnson makes his return to the lineup tonight as the Canucks get back in action less than 24 hours after returning home from Edmonton.
Johnson skated this morning alongside Jannik Hansen and Andrew Raycroft to warm up for the upcoming match against the Dallas Stars at GM Place.
“To be able to be out there now and feeling great on my feet and feeling quick and fast again, it’s a nice feeling,” said Johnson.
Johnson has missed 10 games since fracturing his foot on December 20, but hopes to play tonight and continue where he left off before the injury.
“The easy way to handle it is go out and be physical and get yourself involved,” said Johnson. “That’s what I’m going to do. Nothing in my game will change. I’m just excited about getting back in the room with the guys and getting back out on the ice.”
With the addition of Johnson, Jannik Hansen will sit out and Rick Rypien, who is still recovering from the flu, will also miss tonight's tilt with the Dallas Stars. Darcy Hordichuk and Tanner Glass will skate with Johnson on the fourth line.
Willie Mitchell remains day-to-day with an upper body injury, leaving last night's blueline in tact.
GAME DAY NOTES
The Canucks and the Stars will play their fourth and last game of the season tonight. Vancouver is 2-1 against Dallas, but each game was very close.
On October 11, the Canucks played a close one and won 4-3 in SO over the Stars. On November 6, the Stars came back and won 2-1, and in their most recent match on January 2, the Canucks pulled off 3-1 in Dallas.
Wednesday night in Edmonton, the Canucks had to make a comeback after two tough periods and falling behind twice.
They were down 2-1 until Sami Salo got one past Edmonton Oiler goaltender Devan Dubnyk at 15:54 in the third. In overtime, the Canucks were lucky to get a four-on-three powerplay after a tripping penalty was given to Denis Grebeshkov for getting his stick caught in Mason Raymond’s legs on a breakaway. The Sedin twins wasted no time and Daniel caught the puck from Henrik 1:39 into OT scoring the winning goal.
“I think we knew they were going to come out desperate as they did,” said Shane O’Brien. “Every time we go to Edmonton it’s a tough place to play. I found the first two periods through the neutral zone we turned the puck over way too much and that kept them in the game. I think if we would’ve played the way we did in the third and kept getting it deep, I think it would’ve been a better game for 60 minutes but we found a way to win, that’s all that matters.”
The Canucks hope to come out with a stronger start tonight against the Stars who defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Monday. The stars are seven points behind the Canucks with 53, and currently stand in tenth place in the West.
Marc Crawford, former Canuck coach of seven seasons (1998-2005) turned Dallas coach is familiar with players like the Sedins, who he coached for five seasons. Knowing how hot the twins have been lately, Daniel with 42 points (13-29-42), and Henrik with 70 (21-49-70), Crawford ensures his current team is aware of it.
“I think we’ve always, ever since I’ve not been here and playing against them [Daniel and Henrik], you always try to make your players aware of their strengths,” said Crawford. “We know what their strengths are and it’s quite obvious to most people. They certainly know each other really well. They’ve got great familiarity and great chemistry on their group. I think they’ve matured and they’ve become even better professionals now. They understand the tactics of which people use against them, and they’ve developed their own strategies for dealing with them.”
Crawford is right about the twins maturing. In their first season with the Canucks in 2000, and with Crawford as head coach, Daniel accumulated 34 points (20-14-34), and Henrik had 29 (9-20-29). Since then the twins have flourished and hope to be a strong force tonight, along with the team to defeat the Stars.