GAME NIGHT IN ST. LOUIS
The Canucks (24-20-8) are playing the first of their eight-game stretch that will take them to eight different cities tonight in St. Louis, facing off against the Blues (22-24-6).
The two teams have met once this season, a month ago when the Blues defeated the Canucks 6-4 at GM Place. The Vancouver squad looks to even up the score and extend their winning streak to three.
The Canucks coming off a 7-3 victory over Chicago are anything but complacent. The team is excited to head back on the road and build upon the success of their last two games.
Head coach Alain Vigneault will not make any changes to his victorious lineup
heading into tonight's game. Defenceman Shane O'Brien and forward Kyle Wellwood are healthy scratches, while Rob Davison and Mason Raymond
“Right now, Shane’s not playing, he’s got to work and stay ready," said Vigneault. "Right now Davison’s playing really well."
“[Wellwood has] been alright defensively, offensively there’s just not a lot going on, 5-on-5 and on the power play. Power play last game was 4 for 8.”
The Blues are missing key players to injury, but will receive a boost with the return of centre Andy McDonald, who has missed the last 36 games with a fractured ankle. The Canucks want to get a quick start tonight and play a simplified and disciplined game.
“[The St. Louis Blues] are 6-1-3 in their last 10 games, they’ve gotten points in nine of their last 10,” said Vigneault. “They’re a hardworking, smart defensive hockey team and that’s how they stay in every game.
"They compete real hard when they don’t have the puck and they make it really hard for you to get quality chances. They’ve really picked up their game lately.”
"St. Louis is doing a lot of good things right now," said Alex Burrows. "They're making a push. They may be 15th but they're in the mix. Obviously they are a team we have to beat to make the playoffs. We have to eliminate seven teams and St. Louis is one of them."RETURNING TO FORM
Captain Roberto Luongo
has been putting in extra time on the ice with goaltending coach Ian Clark and believes he is close to returning to form. The star netminder is looking forward to hitting the road for a busy game schedule.
"I can't get frustrated or get myself down because I'm not where I want to be," said Luongo. "That's kind of what happened a bit at the end of last week."
"You kind of have to step back and say: 'We're all human.' If you look at other goalies in the league who have been hurt and come back, it's tough to pick up where you left off. I kind of realized I've just got to give it some time."
This week's schedule is important for the Canucks who will play St. Louis, Phoenix, and Dallas, three teams that are close in the standings. Vigneault believes it is also a great opportunity for Luongo to get a lot of minutes and the team to continue their improvement.
"[Luongo's] been dying for this to start, playing and playing and playing every other night," said Vigneault. "That's what he likes to do.
"For whatever reason, he's considered a slow starter. Usually, the month of October ... I shouldn't say on and off, but he's not to Luongo standards. Then all of sudden, he sees everything and stops everything. Hopefully for us, he's closing in on that.
"If the last game was any indication of what's coming up here, we're going to be in great shape."
Vigneault’s new second line of Ryan Kesler
, Mats Sundin, and Pavol Demitra is proving to be a legitimate offensive threat, relieving pressure from the Sedin line, having combined for 15 points in the last two games.
“It’s nice to see Pavol back from injury,” said Mats Sundin. “He’s a good player, a smart player out there so he’s easy to play with. And obviously Ryan has had a great couple of weeks here, where he’s really playing great in both ends and producing and so forth. So it’s been easy to adjust playing with him too. FANTASY HOCKEY:
Check out Canucks Fantasy Hockey
, a free online game that allows you to play against other Vancouver Canucks fans as you attempt to earn the most points during each of the Vancouver Canucks' regular season hockey games.