CANUCKS IN COLUMBUS
Injured Canuck captain Roberto Luongo
joined the team on the road trip that kicked off Saturday in Calgary. The star goaltender, recovering from a groin strain, made positive progress today as he skated in full gear, making a couple laps.
The Canucks are in Columbus preparing for their match up against the Blue Jackets tonight, the second game of their seven-game road trip.
Darcy Hordichuk will not play tonight after blocking a shot in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames and suffering a cracked bone in his left foot. Hordichuk is out indefinately.
Manitoba Moose forward Jason Jaffray was recalled yesterday to fit into the lineup for Hordichuk. Jaffray has 17 points, 12 goals and five assists in 17 games with the Moose this season. Alexandre Bolduc has returned to Manitoba after playing in two games with the Canucks, registering two penalty minutes.
Mike Brown will also dress as Ryan Johnson remains out with a fractured foot and finger and forward Rick Rypien continues to recover from a sports hernia injury.
Goaltender Curtis Sanford will start tonight after sitting out during this weekend’s match up in Calgary. Sanford took a shot from Kevin Bieksa
in the throat during Saturday’s pre-game skate and was still in a little bit of discomfort following the game that Moose netminder Cory Schneider
"It's still a little tender and it's really swollen," said Sanford after the game. "I've put the plastic dangler on. I won't have to worry about going through this anymore."
The two Western Conference teams last met in October, during the Canucks six-game road trip when the Canucks lost to the Blue Jackets 4-2. Vancouver (14-8-2) is coming off two losses to the Flames heading into tonight’s match up against Columbus (10-10-3) riding momentum from a 3-0 win over the Washington Capitals.
The Canucks look to ignite their power play that was 0-for-3 against Calgary.
“It’s a very competitive conference, competitive division, there’s not a lot separating a lot of teams and sometimes you get on a roll because of great goaltending, specialty teams, some guys finding their touch,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “Right now our specialty teams are in neutral and we’ve got to find a way to get them back going.”SCHNEIDER'S NHL DEBUT
Playing in his first NHL game, Schneider looked calm and poised in net. Despite his strong play the Canucks lost their second game in a row to the Flames, who moved within one point of the Canucks in the Northwest divison standings.
Schneider, the Canucks first round draft pick in 2004, made 28 saves only allowing a goal after 21 shots. The star Manitoba Moose netminder, who is 10-1 with the AHL team this season, earned the second star of the game for his performance.
"He gave us a chance obviously," said Sami Salo
. "We weren't really sharp, especially in the second period, and it was basically almost the whole period in our zone."
Despite his solid game, there was one goal that Schneider wanted back, the David Moss goal in the third that put the Flames up 2-0 in the third period.
"It was a two-on-one, but I read he was going to shoot the puck and I thought he was going to get it up a bit," said Schneider. "But he made a nice play to the far side and and I wasn't able to get my trailing leg down. When you're down 1-0 in the third, that's a killer goal to give up to put your team down two. It just snuck under my left pad. He beat me in a perfect spot."
Luongo was on hand to watch his team play and was impressed with Schneider’s play.
"He played really well," said Luongo. "I was really impressed by his positioning. He looked strong, a lot of pucks were hitting him in the chest and pads. When you see that, it means he is playing on top of his game and playing well technically."
November was a memorable month for the Canucks, going 8-3-2 despite losing key players to injuries. Saturday's game was a significant milestone for Steve Bernier who played in his 200th career NHL game against the Flames.SUNDIN UPDATE:
Radio reports suggest that the former Leafs captain, Mats Sundin, may soon end speculation regarding his return to the NHL, making his decision in the next seven days.OTHER NEWS:
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