RJ AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
Fourth line centre Ryan Johnson joined the Canucks for the beginning of their practice this morning for the first time since suffering a broken foot. He was said to be out 4-6 weeks but is recovering quickly and may be ready at some point during round two against the Chicago Blackhawks.
"I'm ahead of the schedule here quite a bit already," said Johnson. "It's in the doctor's hands, if it was up to me, I'd be ready to go here really soon. They have the final say, so I'm just taking some baby steps here, but I'm heading in the right direction."
The team is excited to have him back on the ice due to his large leadership role in the dressing room as well as his presence on the penalty kill.
"I think just seeing him out there this morning, everyone was excited again," said Rick Rypien. "He's unbelievable, he's a special guy with the way he plays. He plays with a lot of heart and he blocks a lot of shots. He's a good defensive guy, good on face-offs."
Defenceman Aaron Rome skated the full practice with the team alongside recently recalled Lawrence Nycholat. He is still day-to-day with his injury but may be ready for game one of round two.
"I don't know how it's going to react tomorrow or the next day but that's the plan for myself, is be ready to play the first game," said Rome.
Nolan Baumgartner did not skate with the team and is still day-to-day as well. He is continuing to work out off the ice.
SCHNEIDER JOINS TEAM
Recently recalled goaltender Cory Schneider joined the team for practice today as Roberto Luongo skated alone with goaltender consultant Ian Clark after the full team skate for some one-on-one practice.
The Manitoba Moose were knocked out of the playoffs in round one by the Hamilton Bulldogs in game six. Schneider had an impressive season playing in 60 games for the Moose and posting a 35-23-2 record. He registered four shutouts and recorded a .919 save percentage. In two games with Vancouver this season, he recorded a .915 save percentage.
"I think I made a lot of steps this season," said Schneider. "Just being confident, playing every night, and battling that mental and physical fatigue of playing a lot of games in the season. It almost feels like nothing phases me anymore and that I'm more able to tackle those challenges."
Vancouver Canucks President & General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that the Canucks have signed free agent Kevin Connauton. The terms of the deal were not disclosed in keeping with club policy.
The 20 year old from Edmonton, Alberta has appeared in 69 games with the Vancouver Giants this season registering 72 points (24-48-72) and 107 penalty minutes. He was tied for the league's top scoring defenceman. In the post-season, he recorded 13 points (3-10-13) and 21 penalty minutes in 16 games.
The 6'1", 196lb defenceman was drafted by the Canucks in the third round, 83rd overall, in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
PAST IS THE PAST
As the Canucks go head-to-head with the Blackhawks in round two, they would like to leave their round one penalty killing woes behind them. Vancouver let in 10 power-play goals on 26 opportunities that left the Los Angeles Kings first in the league with a 38.5 PP%, and want a different result this time around.
From games three to four in round one against LA, the Kings netted goals on six consecutive power-play chances. In game six against the Kings, the Canucks bounced back killing off all five minors and hope to bring that success into the next series.
"We got better as the series went on," said Alex Burrows. "We started getting bounces going our way and started making better reads, that's what we need. We know we can do the job. We're going to be facing another tough power-play, they have skills, they move the puck well, and have good net presence."
In the 2009-2010 regular season, the Hawks were only one for 16 on the power-play against the Canucks, while the Canucks were two for 13. Against the Nashville Predators in round one, Chicago took advantage of four opportunities of 23 and have a 17.4 PP%, 11th in the league. Vancouver’s six goals on 24 chances against the Kings leaves them at sixth with a 25.0 PP%.
Though the Canucks win in terms of PP%, the Blackhawks are third in the league for penalty kill with a 96.3 PK%, letting in just one goal on 27 times short-handed, while the Canucks remain last for PK% with 61.5. The Kings ended at 12th in the league with a 75.0 PK%, meaning the Canucks will have to capitalize on every power-play opportunity against a tougher opponent when it comes to the PK.
"They have a lot of skill upfront," said Daniel Sedin. "[Duncan] Keith and [Brent] Seabrook on the back-end are really skilled. They move the puck really well. We'll look more at their power-play in the next few days here."