RJ THREE WEEKS IN
Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault shared with the media today that it has been three weeks since forward Ryan Johnson's injury. With a 4-6 week injury timeline, it is possible that Johnson could be back for round two.
Due to a broken foot, RJ missed the last three regular season games and all six of the first round against the Los Angeles Kings.
Johnson's return means having a main penalty killer on the roster who may lend a helping hand to the Canucks' round one PK woes where the Kings netted goals on 10 of 26 opportunities, leaving the Canucks last in the league with a 61.5 PK%.
Last season Johnson appeared in 10 post-season games recordings two points (1-1-2) and two penalty minutes.
Defenceman Aaron Rome is still day-to-day with his injury. He missed the last three games against the Kings in round one.
ROUND TWO REPEAT
Now that the Canucks came out on top in round one, they are in the same place they were last season, awaiting the news of their second round opponent, who could once again be the Chicago Blackhawks.
After being knocked out in round two by the Blackhawks in six games last year, there is no denying the rivalry between them and the Canucks. Chicago leads 3-2 against the Nashville Predators and will face them tonight in game six hoping to put a cap on the series and avoid game seven. A win would also mean a repeat of last year, facing the Canucks in round two.
"When a team takes you out the year before, it's a sour feeling," said Kevin Bieksa. "Playing them during the regular season results in heated games because we developed such a rivalry in the playoffs last year. We know they're a really good team, an elite team, and we know we're going to have to go through them at some point to get out of our conference. It doesn't really matter who we play, if it so happens to be them, we'll be ready to battle."
Defeating the St. Louis Blues four straight in round one last year was a confidence booster for the Canucks, but that along with too much time off may not have been the best way to enter the second round against the Blackhawks.
"I think the difference between this year and last year is that we swept St. Louis and then we had a long break," said Ryan Kesler. "It was a little too long."
This time around, the Canucks battled hard for six games rather than four while facing more adversity. They gave up the first goal on three different occasions and were down three times after the second period, two of those games they came back to win it.
"St. Louis was a battle all four games, but we just happened to get the bounces in that series and we won four straight," said Bieksa. "We didn't expect that and we were kind of thinking 'how did that happen?' We had a lot of time in between, maybe too much time. We battled through the series [against LA] and we were down at times, so it definitely made us a lot stronger team."
Though the Canucks may face the Blackhawks for the second consecutive time in round two, they hope to come out of it with a different result.
"This year we're back to where we were last year and I think this year we're a little more prepared," said Kyle Wellwood. "We played a little harder, and maybe we can make a bigger push to move forward."
Whoever the Canucks face, game one will take place this Friday, April 30.
CANUCKS DAY IN VANCOUVER
Vancouver City Hall will show its support for the Canucks as they enter the second round of the NHL post-season by declaring tomorrow, April 27, Canucks Day.
Fans are welcome to join Mayor Robertson and Council, Canucks Sports & Entertainment owner Francesco Aquilini, President and General Manager Mike Gillis, and Chief Operating Officer Victor de Bonis.
The Canucks flag will be raised for the day at Vancouver’s City Hall as the Mayor reads a proclamation celebrating Canucks Day. Vancouver Canucks mascot, Fin, will hand out white towels as the public cheers on their favourite team.
Click here for full event details.