The Vancouver Canucks have yet to take to the ice for pre-season and already the injury bug has bit.
Prospect Stefan Schneider will be out four to six weeks, according to head coach Alain Vigneault. The forward suffered a broken hand in practice Monday. The 21-year-old was slotted to play between Aaron Volpatti and Anton Rodin for Tuesday’s pre-season opener at Rogers Arena; instead Maxim Lapierre will take his place.
Jensen turns to dad for advice
Although nearly 40 Canucks will make their season debut tonight, it’s a true Vancouver debut for the likes of Marco Sturm and Nicklas Jensen. Sturm was signed as a free agent this off-season, while Jensen became the second Danish player drafted by Vancouver going 29th overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
The veteran and rookie are equally as nervous and excited for puck drop.
Sturm has experience in his back pocket to help him through tonight and so does Jensen. Dan, his father, is a native of Toronto who played in the OHL for three years before playing hockey in Denmark. He had some advice for Nicklas heading into tonight’s game.
“He’s so proud back home,” smiled Jensen, who was told to work harder than he ever has before. “Go out there and play the game I know how to play it, don’t try to do too much, it’s just all about hard work and discipline. Just go out there and do your best.”
Jensen’s parents will be watching the game in Denmark at 4 a.m. their time, so he’s hoping to play well in his pro debut.
“I’m going to be a little nervous, I’m a little nervous right now, but it’s in a good way. I’m just going to go out there and work as hard as I can and just try to enjoy every moment…I’m prepared…hopefully.”
Back on NHL ice
Vancouver’s top line will feature Sturm, his former San Jose Sharks teammate Owen Nolan and Andrew Ebbett. Nolan is coming off a year playing Swiss-A hockey in Zurich, so being back on the big stage, albeit in pre-season, has him fired up.
“It’s great, I’m really looking forward to tonight,” said Nolan, who had 26 points (7-19-26) in 24 games for Zurich.
“It wasn’t physical hockey, that’s for sure, so I don’t have bumps and bruises going into the season, but it was tough over there, not seeing the family was tough, I was them three weeks out of five months. As far as the hockey over there, it’s a big ice surface so it’s a lot of skating.
“It’s been a while since I played at the caliber and high pace of this game so I’m going to go out and play hard and see what happens.”
This and that from coach Alain Vigneault…
-Aaron Rome has “turned the page” on his hit on Nathan Horton and the subsequent suspension and he’s focused on returning to the player he was prior to that. Vigneault said Rome was playing a “physical, good first ass type game” and that he’s confident the blueliner will rebound from the incident.
-It’s a brand new season for everyone, including Keith Ballard. The Canucks defenceman was a healthy scratch on and off throughout the post-season last year. “Keith has come in with a real positive attitude, he’s healthy and we’ve got training camp to slot players into where they are going to help us win. Tonight’s the first game and I’m confident he’s going to do real well for us.”
-Owen Nolan offers a nice skill set, one the Canucks didn’t feel that they were lacking, but the more gritty players a team can acquire, the better. “Any team that can have a couple power forwards would be stupid not to have them, so obviously that has been part of his forte since he’s been in the NHL and we’ll see if he can still do it at his early or mid 30’s,” said Vigneault, with a chuckle.
-Eddie Lack has come a long way in just over a season, but is he ready to be the first goaltender called up, should Vancouver need the support? “We’re not at that stage yet. Eddie last year was his first year, he had a good year, obviously had played more games than he had in the past. He’s definitely a prospect we feel that if he keeps progressing and working on his game, that one day he will have a chance to play at this level.”
Vancouver Canucks president and general manager Mike Gillis announced Tuesday that the Canucks have reduced their pre-season roster by assigning goaltender David Honzik to his junior club, the QMJHL's Victoriaville Cougars.
In other Canucks news, both Vancouver teams will skate at Rogers Arena this morning as Group A prepares to face Calgary at home, while Group B will fly to Calgary this afternoon to face the Flames on the road.
Now you know x 10
By Travis Britton
-The Calgary Flames were the only undefeated team last year in the pre-season. The Flames outscored opponents 23-11, while posting a perfect 7-0 record.
-The Flames and Canucks both open their 2011-2012 season at home against the flightless Penguins of Pittsburgh.
-The Canucks don’t see the Flames again on home ice until December 4th.
-Owen Nolan recorded his lowest point total output in his career while suiting up for a full NHL season, while playing for the Calgary Flames in the 2007-08 season. He recorded 16 goals and 16 assists in 77 games.
-Miikka Kiprusoff only needs one win to be the outright leader for all-time wins in a Flames uniform. He’s currently tied with co-leader Mike Vernon with 262 wins.
-Speaking of Kiprusoff, he can join the 300 win group among goalies this season. This list includes Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo and 24 other top notch tenders.
-Tonight is Eddie Lack’s first pre-season action in front of his home crowd. He suited up last year for two road exhibition games against the Flames and San Jose Sharks.
-Owen Nolan played his 1,000th NHL game in a Calgary Flames sweater.
-Steve Begin began his career with the Calgary flames playing parts of five seasons with the big club.
-Keith Ballard’s career high for shots in a game of three came against the Calgary Flames.