| PYATT ON THE SHELF |
Taylor Pyatt suffered and broken foot in Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
The 6’4”, 230-pound forward is on crutches and will be out indefinitely according to head coach Alain Vigneault.
Ryan Johnson, Kevin Bieksa, and Darcy Hordichuk have all suffered similar foot injuries this season as a result of blocked shots.
“It’s definitely tough,” said Hordichuk, who broke a bone against the Flames in late November. “Once you get your boot off the foot just swells up so much. All the little bones in that area aren’t moving quite the same so all the pressure is in that one area where it’s broken.
“It’s an injury you have to be careful with so you don’t displace anything.”
Alex Burrows is one Canucks forward who has recently begun to wear a special protective tongue plate on his skate to prevent taking the full force of a shot in the exposed area of his upper foot. While the plate offers some protection, Hordichuk says it’s more a matter of chance than anything else.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t matter what kind of protection you have, it just where you get hit and how you get hit.”
“With our style maybe a few more guys get injured, but our job is not to let pucks get through the shooting lane and whatever you can do to block a shot, you do.”
With Pyatt out, the Canucks have five regulars out of the line-up, something Willie Mitchell says will change the focus on how they approach the game.
“I just heard about it [Pyatt’s injury] this morning. It’s a loss for us, no doubt, but we have a lot of guys out of the line-up right now: we have our best player and goaltender out in Roberto [Luongo], and Sami Salo, and RJ [Ryan Johnson] , and Ryp [Rick Rypien]. When you have guys out like that you have to play better systematically and we’re going to try to do that here.”
Pyatt has four goals and six assists in 36 games this season playing mostly third and fourth line minutes. He is a minus three. Jason Jaffray will draw into the line-up in Pyatt’s place.
OUT OF THE BOXING DAY
After getting slapped with another 15 penalty minutes Friday against the Oilers, the Canucks officially earned the dubious honour of becoming the NHL’s most penalized team.
The Canucks lead the league taking an average of 19.9 minutes per game, including a league leading 42 majors.
That’s lead to 180 times shorthanded, and 33 power-play goals against. Given that 10 of the Canucks’ 19 loses this season have been decided by two or fewer goals, it’s not hard to understand how those penalties have hurt the team.
“We talked about it yesterday,” said Alex Burrows. “That’s one of the biggest reasons we lost a few games here lately. We just have to make sure we stay out of the box and stay off the referees and skate with our sticks down because we can’t afford to take those slashing or hooking or holding penalties. Those are killing us right now.”
Defenceman Shane O’Brien leads the team with 116 penalty minutes (six majors and 28 minors), followed by Mike Brown (74 minutes) and Alex Burrows (67).
“I think we’ve built ourselves a bit of a reputation here,” said O’Brien. “Referees are like anybody else in the league - they look at stats and see the Vancouver Canucks leading the league in penalty minutes and they keep a closer eye on us.”
“We’ve been talking in the room about trying to stay off the refs and not lipping back, and if you get a penalty, you just go to the box. I mean it is hard sometimes when you feel like you didn’t do anything against the rules and they still find a way to give you two, but we have to bite our tongue here and get through the next couple of weeks to get rid of this reputation.”
Ottawa has the league’s 15th ranked power play with 26 goals scored.
The Senators played Saturday night in Calgary where they dropped a 6-3 decision to a team that leads the Canucks by three points in the Northwest.
Playing their second game in 24 hours won’t be easy for a Senators team that is 3-10-2 on the road this season and sits last in the Northeast division.
“When you’re playing against a team [that’s playing back-to-back], you have to try to put them down early and that’s what we’ll try to do tonight,” said Burrows.
“In today’s game these are points that we must have,” said goalie Curtis Sanford. “It’s out of conference and out of division, but it’s two big points all the same, and there’s only one team that’s going to get points tonight in our conference.”
Though Ottawa ranks 29th in scoring with 79 goals for (2.39 per game), they have two players who rank in the NHL’s top-40 in goal scoring – Heatley (16) and Spezza (14). Shutting them down will be key for a Canucks team that’s surrendered 11 goals in their past three games.
“We don’t see them too often, but they are really dangerous. We need to have a really good game against those guys or we’ll be on the wrong side of the score sheet,” Burrows said.
NOTES AND QUOTES
Head coach Alain Vigneault said Demirta will line up with the Sedin twins Sunday against the Senators. Raymond, Wellwood and Bernier will skate on a second scoring unit while Kesler, Burrows and Hansen will earn checking duty. Jaffray will skate with Brown and Hordichuk.
“To tell you the truth, I think I’ve seen Roberto once in the past two weeks, so I wouldn’t know.” – Vigneault denying rumours that Roberto Luongo has begun skating again after missing the past 16 games with a groin injury.
“He’s arriving tomorrow and he’s going to be in here on the 30th and will skate with the team on the game day.” – Vigneault on when fans could expect to see Sundin on the ice with the team.
“The thing is that depth players are really important and they’ve lost a lot of those guys. I know they’re getting mad at Spezza and things, but he’s still having a good year. I know if they had a few more depth players, they would be a contending team.” – Wellwood on the fate of the Senators this year, who are struggling to climb out of the eastern basement.
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