Taking a page from the MLB playbook, the Canucks and the Calgary Flames split their squads with half the team playing in Calgary and the other half in Vancouver to open the preseason. The puck drops at 6pm PT at the Pengrowth Saddledome and 7pm PT at Rogers Arena. Both games can be seen on Canucks.com at their respective times.
Rene Bourque, Mark Giordano, Niklas Hagman and Craig Conroy lead the Flames into Vancouver, while notable names for Vancouver include Kevin Bieksa Manny Malhotra, and free agent Brendan Morrison.
Many of the Canucks familiar faces sit out tonight, letting the newcomers show the coaches what they can do and as a result, Coach Alain Vigneault has the ability to try out new lineups:
Today’s expected lineup looks like this (changes could still happen closer to game time):
Schaefer- Rypien- Oreskovich
B. Sweatt- Morrison- Shirokov
Rai- Schneider- Weller
Cory Scheider will start the game, and David Shantz is scheduled to finish out the third.
Coach V is eager to see the new prospects face some NHL competition for the first time.
“Players have to play to their strengths,” said Vigneault, “we have a lot of good, young players, we’re anxious to see what they can do.”
With more talented players than there are roster spots, players will have to be at the top of their game to secure themselves a spot on the roster for Oct. 9th.
HODGSON AND GROUP ‘C’ PRACTICE
Cody Hodgson told Vigneault today that he’s pain-free and symptom-free and started participating in regular practice.
Although Hodsgon claimed that there is no timeline to his injury, he is confident that if things keep progressing he will play in at least one preseason game.
”It’s getting back to training mode and game mode,” said Hodgson, “that’s what we’re aiming for.”
Hodgson missed most of last season due to a bulging disc and a misdiagnosed muscle tear.
Hodgson was skating well at practice this morning, having been cleared for full practice, including contact on Monday.
He participated in practice drills with the Canucks third group of players including other forwards, Taylor Ellington, Mason Raymond, Mikael Samuelsson, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and Ryan Kesler. Roberto Luongo was the lone goaltender accompanied by defencemen, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, Chrisitian Ehrhoff, and Alex Edler.
Alex Burrows, in his fourth practice since his shoulder surgery also skated with this group.
PRE SEASON HISTORY
The Canucks had a successful 2009 preseason, finishing 7-0-2, including 3 shoot-out victories. The two losses occurred in OT against Anaheim (3-2) and Edmonton (5-4).
The Flames finished their preseason 3-2-2, including two shoot out losses to Vancouver. By the time the regular season ended the Flames had a 3-0-2 record against Vancouver.
The Canucks finished the regular season 49-28-5, losing in the second round of playoffs to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Flames missed the playoffs for the first time since 2004, finishing 40-32-10.
In last week’s Young Stars Tournament Canuck prospects beat their Flames rivals 5-4 in the final game of the tournament.
This week also marks the 15th anniversary of the Canucks first game in GM Place (now Rogers Arena).