LUONGO TO START IN SJ
Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo will start in Saturday's game against the San Jose Sharks after taking a rest on Wednesday when the Canucks faced the Anaheim Ducks.
"I had two days to step back and refresh," said Luongo. "I came in this morning and felt re-energized and excited to play tomorrow night. I had a good practice so I'm ready to go."
Luongo spent some time with goaltender consultant, Ian Clark this morning at practice to work out a few areas that Lui wants to improve.
"I just have to make sure I go back to basics once in awhile, and reinforce some points that I work on and make sure they're there and that I use them in the game," said Luongo.
Luongo (37-20-3) has had more wins this season than his last two with the Canucks. His 37 wins this year are the fifth highest in the league.
"Roberto's been playing really well, it's a consistency issue here," said Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault. "He's had great games against top teams and helped us win some huge games. For whatever reasons, everyone's analyzing this in their own way, he's had a couple of games where he's not what we're used to seeing. That's going to happen to any player."
Pavol Demitra is still away with personal issues and did not skate with the team today and will not be travelling to San Jose.
Mikael Samuelsson was once again skating before practice and is right on track in his recovery from an upper body injury.
Tomorrow's lineup against the Sharks will likely remain intact from last game against the Ducks.
BATTLE OF THE OCEAN
The Canucks fly to San Jose today to face the Sharks for the second last time this season. The Canucks defeated the Sharks 3-2 on home ice on March 18 and hope to earn a similar result tomorrow night.
After facing a tough 3-1 series against the Sharks last season, the Canucks hope to start off strong in a building where the Canucks have struggled to play in the past.
"It's a really tough environment because they're a big, strong, physical team," said Vigneault. "If you want to win in their building, just like when people come into our building there's a big price to pay and we're going to have to be really good tomorrow night."
The Canucks still hold first in the Northwest division keeping them third in the conference with 94 points (45-25-4), five ahead of the lingering Colorado Avalanche (41-25-7). The Canucks haven’t won more than two games in a row since before the Olympic break.
The Sharks have swam their way back up to first in the West with 100 points (45-19-10) and have clinched a playoff spot. They are only two points ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes (46-23-6) and only one point ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks (46-20-7). The Canucks face the Sharks one more time after tomorrow before the playoffs and have a chance to play catch up.
"It's a great match up for us going into the playoffs," said Henrik Sedin. "These are the teams we know we're going to have to beat to go deep, so I think it's good for us."
Thanks to Alex Ovechkin’s scoreless game Thursday night, Henrik is still at the top of the league in points (99) and assists (71).
"If he's first or second, he's still an unbelievable play maker, if not the best in the league," said Alex Burrows. "I think he just makes plays all over the ice and plays with a lot of confidence. Everytime he's out there he's able to find you."
Sharks forward Joe Thornton is hot on the tail of Henrik for assist leader with 66. He is also seventh in the league for points with 85 (19-66-85). Sharks top goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is second in the league for wins with 39.
Though the Sharks suffered six consecutive losses mid-March, they have stepped it up of late and have won their last two games, both by three goals. The Canucks know they will have to push hard to beat the Western leaders, and a team they could potentially face in the playoffs.
"Coming into their building, their coach puts the matchups he wants out there and that's a little more challenging for us," said Kyle Wellwood. "We're going to make sure we come out hard in the first period and establish our game."