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Canucks Report - Northwest title on the line

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks


There is a lot at stake tonight when the Canucks (42-27-10) take on the Flames (45-28-6) at GM Place. Matchups between the division rivals are always intense, physical games, but tonight a Calgary win would clinch the Northwest division title for the Flames.

The Canucks look to continue their fight for the Northwest lead, and after a much-needed day off yesterday following a grueling six-game road trip, the team is prepared for battle.

“It’s a pretty good situation we’re in, considering where we were earlier in the season when we had a tough spell,” said assistant captain Willie Mitchell.

“We’re happy to have that opportunity. No one ever thought we could challenge for the division and we’re here challenging for it. So we feel fortunate and we feel good about what we’ve done in the second half of the season. And we’re looking forward to a challenge, playing against a good team.

“[The day off on Monday] was really important. First thing in the morning you could tell the excitement to be at the rink and [the players are] refreshed. Sometimes it’s a long season and guys are really happy to be here and get moving, so the day off was really important.”

The only lineup change expected for tonight’s game is Darcy Hordichuk slotting in for Jannik Hansen. Defencemen Ossi Vaananen and Rob Davison will be healthy scratches.

“I'm not quite sure yet what I’m going to do with our lines here,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “Still finishing watching Calgary’s game against L.A. last night, so I’ll decide that later on today.

The Canucks are 3-2-0 this season against the Flames, their last meeting a 4-3 shootout win for Vancouver at Pengrowth Saddledome back in February.

Daniel Sedin leads the Canucks with seven points (3-4-7) against the Flames this season. Vancouver’s record this season when both Daniel and Henrik record at least one point in the same game is 28-9-5. Flames’ forwards Michael Cammalleri (4-1-5), Daymond Langkow (2-3-5), and Jarome Iginla (1-4-5) are all tied for the team lead with 5 points each against the Canucks.

“It’s definitely going to be intense, probably like the Chicago game a little over a week ago,” said Roberto Luongo. “So it’s going to a fun game, an exciting game to play tonight and guys are looking forward to getting on the ice.

“We just want to make sure we get in the right mind frame coming into the playoffs. I think we’re all excited that we made it and now we’re a week away before we get going. We want to make sure these last three games we get in the right mind frame and play the type of hockey we want to be playing.”

The Canucks fell 4-1 to the Avalanche on Sunday in a disappointing showing for the home team with Pavol Demitra scoring Vancouver’s lone goal, his 20th of the season. The players are not dwelling on the loss, but look correct any flaws in their game heading into the postseason.

“Those three losses are behind us, it doesn’t really bother us anymore,” said Burrows. “It should be a fun game to play in tonight. A playoff atmosphere, a lot of intensity and energy in the building, so it should be a fun one to play.

“We made some mistakes and it ended up in the back of our net. So we just have to go back to our process and that’s when we’re playing a strong defensive game, we’re not turning the puck over, we’re moving the puck well, supporting the puck and carrying it the right way. If we do that like we can, we should be fine.

Tonight’s game faces off at 7:00pm PST and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific.

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