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Canucks Report - Look to gain footing in West

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
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GAME NIGHT AT THE GARAGE

The Canucks are coming into an important stretch in their season, looking to rebound from a six game losing streak and make up some ground in the crowded Western Conference. They have with a four game home-stand with three matchups against teams close in the Western standings.

First up is the Nashville Predators tonight at GM Place. Captain Roberto Luongo, who has a 6-5-3 career record against Nashville, looked sharp in the All-Star game. He leads the charge as the Canucks (22-19-7)look to improve their 3-0-0 record against Nashville (20-23-3) this season.

“I think we look at our roster and we’re pretty confident with the players we have in the locker room and the type of character we have here,” said Luongo. “Obviously we struggled a little bit before the All-Star break, but it gave us a chance to re-energize and come back fresh and ready to go for an important stretch here.

“I think we’ve played a simple game when we’ve played against these guys, we haven’t tried to get too fancy. We’ve won our games against them, but they’ve all been tight games. So, I’m assuming it’s going to be the same type of game tonight and we’ve got to be patient. They’re pretty aggressive so we’ve got to capitalize on their mistakes.”

Action around the NHL last night bumped the Canucks into 10th position in the West. Their current place in the standings is concerning, however when asked about it Luongo responded that it is a wakeup call, but not reason to push the panic button. There is still a lot of hockey to be played.

A slump now is less dangerous than later in the season, as long as the team can bounce back. The players certainly believe they can and point to improved play in the two games before breaking for the All-Star Weekend as steps in the right direction.

“I thought in both those games [against the Sharks and Blue Jackets] we had opportunities to win,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “I thought we played a smart road game in San Jose, but both those games are behind us. We didn’t get the results we anticipated, everybody’s turned the page on it and we’re focused on tonight and we’re focused on having a good game against Nashville.”

Tonight's game promises to be a tough physical battle. Both teams suffered losses going into the All-Star break, the Canucks a hard fought, disappointing overtime loss to San Jose, the Predators lost a 3-1 decision to New Jersey. With almost entirely healthy lineups tonight’s game should be a good indicator of the level of play the Canucks are capable of as the playoff push fast approaches.

“It’s very important. You look at the standings right now and everybody is so close right now,” said Darcy Hordichuk. “I know we’ve had luck and success against Nashville, but they’re going to be coming out hard and they’ve got nothing to lose either. They’re kind of falling behind in the standings so I think it will be a good physical game and I think we thrive in games like that.”

Forward Pavol Demitra did not join the team skate this morning and will miss tonight's game with a groin injury sustained on January 18th during the matchup against Columbus. Both Rob Davison and Lawrence Nycholate will be healthy scratches, since defenceman Sami Salo has returned after missing 15 games with a fractured rib. Winger Mike Brown will also sit out as the extra forward.

Tonight’s game faces off at 7:30pm PST. It can be watched in Canada on TSN and on the NHL Network for fans in the United States.

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