CANUCKS vs ISLANDERS
Alex Edler will not play in tonight's game against the New York Islanders, although he is on the road trip with the team. Edler, who has the flu also missed the 4-2 victory over Toronto. Injured defenceman Kevin Bieksa
, who fractured his foot in the Nov. 4th game against Nashville, will miss the trip. Rob Davison and Lawrence Nycholat will both play tonight, filling in on the blueline.
"We kept it simple in certain situations [against Toronto]," said head coach Alain Vigneault. "We lost two of our puck-moving defencemen and that showed in our transition and the fact we didn't get a lot of shots through from the point. But we'll work on that in the next little while."
The Canucks begin a difficult week long, four game road trip tonight in New York. The team will then play back to back games against the New York Rangers and the Minnesota Wild, before facing the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. The Canucks and Islanders last met in January 2008 when the Canucks won a 3-2 shootout decision.
The Canucks finish their six game home stand 4-1-1 and face off against the Islanders, the team that Canucks' captain and star goaltender Roberto Luongo
started his NHL career with. He played 24 games for the Islanders during the 1999-2000 season after being drafted fourth overall in 1997, before being traded to the Florida Panthers.
The Canucks will ice the same lineup
tonight that won on Saturday when the Maple Leafs were in town. There is talk of Mason Raymond
moving down to play with Demitra, leaving a space on the Sedin line for Taylor Pyatt, Steve Bernier, or Kyle Wellwood. However, no changes have been confirmed prior to the 4 p.m. puck drop.ON THE ROAD
The Canucks opened the regular season with a disappointing road trip (2-4) before returning home to win four of six games, earning 9 of a possible 12 points. They will play the next 11 of 13 on the road, a critical part of their schedule.
The team faces a grueling schedule, after tonight's game they play the Rangers on the east coast Wednesday, then the Wild in the midwest Thursday, before flying back to the east to face the Penguins. However, the players are focusing only on the game at hand.
"I don't know how they put the schedule together," said Pavol Demitra. "It doesn't make much sense. But we have a chance to play against some exciting teams on this trip and we don't get many chances to play against the Rangers. I think that's going to be a great game.
Obviously we have to worry about the first game on the Island and go from there."
The team is preparing the best they can and looking forward to being reacquainted with some old friends.
"[The schedule is] kind of weird, but it's part of the game,” said Alex Burrows. Every team goes through it and you've got to make sure you get good food in you, rest when you can and just go out there and work hard.
"It should be great. Some of us have never played in the Big Apple. And obviously playing against Nazzy, who meant so much for this organization and was a great teammate for so long, and then next Saturday against two of the biggest rising stars [Crosby and Malkin]."
The team will look to start the road trip off on the right foot. Following the matchup against the Islanders, who while struggling have won their last two games, they face three games in four days against top teams. The Rangers are leading the Eastern Confernce, the Wild are atop the Northwest Division and the young Penguins squad has won six consecutive games, scoring 32 goals in that stretch. An opening win over the Islanders seems essential for a successful trip.
"That first win's huge, especially against a team like the Islanders," said Ryan Kesler
. "We've gotta come out strong, because you know two days later we've got the Rangers, who are one of the hotter teams in the league."
Today’s game starts at 4pm PST and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific.OTHER NEWS:
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