The cuts are in and the line-up is set. In pencil.
The Vancouver Canucks reduced their roster by nine players Friday as Nicklas Jensen as assigned to his junior club, Mike Duco, Eddie Lack, Yann Sauve and Jordan Schroeder were sent to the Chicago Wolves and Anders Eriksson and Todd Fedoruk were released. Ryan Parent and Mike Mancari were also sent down to the Wolves, but they have to clear waivers.
The Canucks are now down to 13 forwards, a group that includes Cody Hodgson, Aaron Volpatti and Victor Oreskovich.
Volpatti and Oreskovich skated with Maxim Lapierre centering their line during a 60-minute skate Friday, that trio looks to make up a rugged, physical fourth line with offensive upside. As for a nickname for the line, Jeff Paterson of Team 1040, Canucks.com and the Georgia Straight had dubbed it the LOV line (Lapierre, Oreskovich, Volpatti).
For anyone out there trying to stake claim to the moniker, Patterson beat you to the punch. Bookmark this story for proof.
Volpatti wouldn’t comment on the nickname (likely because he wasn’t asked about it), he’s just happy to be that much closer to Vancouver’s opening night roster.
As a B.C. boy, Volpatti said it’s “surreal” even thinking about being with the team on a full-time basis, especially after the taste he got of the NHL last year.
He helped his cause in a big, big, big way Thursday night in a 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
Although his play will be remembered for landing a devastating one-punch TKO on Sharks forward Brad Winchester, a lot more when into Volpatti’s game. His final statline read as follows: four hits, four blocked shots, a five-minute fighting major, 4:41 spent on the penalty kill and 14:27 played overall.
“Physically it was a good night for me, there’s a few plays I’d like to have back, but overall it was a good night,” said Volpatti, who picked up his game in the second half of this pre-season.
“I had a little more confidence, I wouldn’t say I approached it differently, but I had a little bit more confidence, with the puck especially.”
Volpatti sees big things for the LOV line and things could potentially get rolling for the threesome Saturday night in Vancouver’s final pre-season game against the Edmonton Oilers.
“I think we can just be consistently physical, log the puck in their end for a while and that’s what we’ve got to do, and also create some chances and be responsible in our own end and get faceoffs in the O-zone for our top lines.”
Hodgson said getting this far is a “good feeling”; he skated between Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson at practice and if he’s in the line-up Saturday, he will have played all seven of Vancouver’s pre-season games.
“It beats the alternative of not playing,” laughed Hodgson about his pre-season workload. “I’m happy to get in and play as much as I can.
“I think early on I personally had a bunch of chances to capitalize, but I think that stuff will come. It’s when you’re getting those chances that eventually they’ll start going into the back of the net.”
In other shocking line-up news, Alex Burrows was with Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Chris Higgins, Manny Malhotra and Jannik Hansen made up the third line. Andrew Ebbett was the odd man out and is currently the 13th forward.
On defence the Canucks are down to four duos: Dan Hamhuis/KevinBieksa, Sami Salo/Alex Edler, Keith Ballard/Chris Tanev and Andrew Alberts and Alex Sulzer.
THIS AND THAT FROM VIGNEAULT…
-After some intense discussion, coach Alain Vigneault and his staff concluded that Volpatti outdid Duco and Fedoruk for the job. “We thought that Aaron on the ice demonstrated some upside and a little bit more than the other two, so we felt that he deserved to play and start with us.”
-Vigneault liked what Jensen brought to the table this camp, he made that abundantly clear time and time again. He reiterated it Friday, as the sky is still the limit for the young Dane. “He came in here and was like a sponge, he wanted to learn, he asked a lot of questions and if he continues to improve and works at his game, he’s got a bright future. There’s a tremendous amount of upside there."
-Schroeder performed much better in this year’s training camp compared to a year ago. His mission now is “to dominate in the American League.” The forward was sent away with that message. “He’s got to be a dominant figure there as far as when people ask in the American League who one of the better offensive two-way players are, that name has got to come up. If he intends to play at this level one day, that’s the step that he has to make.”
-Vigneault will be taking in the BC Lions game Friday night in the debut of the new BC Place.
“NOTEWORTHY” NOTES WORTH NOTING…
-Lapierre, Samuelsson and Hodgson were the only three players to score during a full team shootout to end practice. The guys had to choose score, not score if they score the wrong option, they had to skate the half length of the ice and back.
-Cansful is a legit word at Scrabble. Not sure if it is in real life, but during the team’s stretch I used it against the computer on my iPhone and it worked. How cansful of me!
-A Hootie and the Blowfish song was playing in the Canucks gym as we waited to talk to players in the dressing room. I love the scene from Jerry Maguire where the kids mistake Rod Tidwell, aka Cuba Gooding Jr., for Hootie and approach him for an autograph. “No, I am not Hootie.” Classic.