PREPARING FOR PLAYOFFS
Canucks captain Roberto Luongo
ended the regular season by posting back-to-back shutouts, bringing his season total to a career high of nine, and helping the team clinch the Northwest Division title.
“I’ve been feeling well for a while now,” said Luongo. “It goes hand-in-hand, when we play well defensively it makes my job easier and it gives me more confidence to challenge the shooter and not worry about other stuff.
“I need my teammates as much as they need me and when we’re both rolling, it’s fun to play."
Luongo worked with goalie coach Ian Clark at practice today to fine-tune his game and told reporters afterward he looks forward to the second season.
“I’m excited to get back, especially after last year. I think we have a great team here and a good chance to do something. I’m just excited to get it going and have a good first round."
The team practiced at GM Place this morning, preparing to host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday for the Stanley Cup Playoffs Home Opener. D-man Willie Mitchell missed practice for a maintenance day, while Kevin Bieksa
skated after sitting out of Saturday's game with the flu.
“[The Blues] work extremely hard, I think they’re probably one of the hardest working teams in the league, they are well coached, and play a good system," said Luongo. "So it’s going to be a tough series, for sure. We have to make sure we’re ready to play every game and I’m sure it’s not going to be a walk in the park. We’re going to really have to dig down deep to win this one.”
The players know that the Blues will be a challenge, but look forward to the battle.
“We’ve got a good test in St. Louis here and we’ve got to be ready for them,” said Ryan Kesler
“They’ve been playing well, their goalie has been playing well for them and I think as a team they’ve been playing pretty solid. So we’ve got to be ready for the challenge and play a hard, solid, good game [on Wednesday].
“They play everybody hard and they seem to capitalize on a lot of scoring chances and they have a pretty deadly power play. It’s going to be very important to limit their scoring chances and stay out of the box.”
The players know it will take a team effort to advance past the Blues, and look to everyone to elevate their game.
“I think we have a really strong group here, there are a lot of guys that are great leaders in the dressing room and it’s just nice to be a part of the group,” said Mats Sundin.
“It’s very important, as we go on here, our line with Kes and myself and Pavol, we have to keep being productive and be a support for the Sedin line as we go on. In the playoffs you need everyone to chip in and in areas where they might not chip in, in normal times. You need to get some scoring from all four lines and all four lines have to be accountable defensively and play good defensively and just muck it out.”PLAYOFF TICKETS:
The Vancouver Canucks announced today that additional single game tickets for two home games in Round 1 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been released and are on sale now. Fans can purchase tickets online at www.ticketmaster.ca
, or by calling Ticketmaster at (604) 280-4400, or 1 (800) 663-9311.