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Canucks Report - Hurricanes in town

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
O'Brien


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GAME LINEUP

The Canucks dive into February with a match up against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at GM Place. The only meeting between the two teams this season is an important one for the Canucks as they look to kick their slump.

Pavol Demitra will be back in action tonight, returning from a sore groin and playing alongside Mats Sundin and Ryan Kesler. Forwards Mason Raymond and Mike Brown are expected to be the odd men out.

“[I’m] very excited [to see what the team is capable of without injuries], especially after I really think we’re turning the corner here,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “There’s been some very good play on our part in the last few games here, especially the last two periods that we played against Minnesota, where in my mind we out-chanced them and outplayed them badly.”

The Canucks look to get off to a quick start tonight, limit turnovers and execute their game plan with tight defence and lots of shots on net.

“So hopefully we can take that and bring it tonight to the ice and play a full 60 minutes against a team that – I’ve watched a few of their last games - are high-paced, high-energy, they come at you with a lot of pressure and [defence] is up on every rush, so it should be an exciting game for everyone,” said Vigneault.

On the back-end Mattias Ohlund, Alex Edler, Sami Salo, Willie Mitchell, Kevin Bieksa, and Rob Davison will dress for tonight’s game. Shane O’Brien was a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game and will sit out again tonight.

Although O’Brien is expected to miss the action tonight, Vigneault has faith that the young blueliner is capable of being a strong, solid defenceman and helping the Canucks win.

“When a player reacts the way Shane does with a little bit of frustration, I don’t get upset about that,” said Vigneault. “I know Shane’s intentions are good, he wants to play, he is like any other player. It might be a bigger deal outside in the media, but with his coach, we’ve got to get Shane to play the way he can to help his team. We know he wants to do well, so all this other stuff is not that big of a deal for me.

“Right now [Davison is] a better option for us because he’s safer on the ice and he’s playing better. The games that Davi has played he hasn’t put the team in a position there where it might hurt, whether with decisions on the ice or penalties.”

O’BRIEN CLEARS UP MISUNDERSTANDING

O’Brien sat down for a meeting with Mike Gillis this morning to clear up a misunderstanding of what was expected from the d-man. Following this morning’s practice O’Brien took the opportunity to address his comments from yesterday.

“I’ve got to clear something up first of all,” said O’Brien. “I’m frustrated right now with the way things are going, but it gives me no right to say something that was said to me in a private meeting. And the way I said it or the way you guys took it was incorrect. Mike Gillis never told me I had to fight. He was just talking to me about playing physical, maybe I took it the wrong way.

“I’m just going to come to work every day and try to be a better player. That’s what me and Mike talked about and that’s where he’s right. I can say whatever I want to anyone, but I have to look in the mirror and be better. That’s getting faster, being in better shape, whatever it is, I’m going to work every day to be a better player.

“I misunderstood what they were saying. I don’t think I went in with a very open mind maybe, I just heard what I thought I heard. I saw what I said afterwards and there was just a lot of frustration and anger.”

“The guys in this dressing room have been great to me and that’s what I feel bad about. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m quitting on my team or anything like that. I was just looking at it from my perspective and I still believe I can be a solid defenceman in this league.

“Maybe they don’t think that right now but I’m going to work hard to prove it to them and everyone else that I’m capable of playing the minutes I think I can play, and playing every night.”

Tonight’s game faces off at 7:00pm PST and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific.

CANADIAN ARMED FORCES NIGHT: The Vancouver Canucks will honour the Canadian Armed Forces tonight when the team faces the Carolina Hurricanes.

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.
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