SAMUELSSON JOINS MORNING PRACTICE
Canucks forward Mikael Samuelsson is right on track in his recovery from an upper body injury and practiced with the team today with no contact.
Samuelsson (30-23-53) has missed five games so far and will not play tomorrow against the Phoenix Coyotes but is expected to travel with the team on their upcoming road trip to Los Angeles.
Shane O'Brien was absent from practice today for undisclosed reasons. Andrew Alberts skated with Christian Ehrhoff at today's skate, a likely pairing for tomorrow's game against the Coyotes.
Pavol Demitra is still out for personal reasons and is day to day with his return.
Roberto Luongo was sporting a new mask today at practice hand painted by his good friend FX Allaire. He will likely only be wearing it during practice.
Canucks President and General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that the Canucks have signed forward Stefan Schneider of the WHL's Portland Winterharks.
Schneider played 72 games with the Winterhawks this season where he recorded 23 points (12-11-23) and 42 penalty minutes. He was awared the Bill Anderson Award for character and ability. He has played two seasons overall with the Winterhawks registering 39 points (23-16-39).
Schneider has also played one season as a defenceman with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL where he recorded four points (0-4-4) in 36 games.
The 20 year old Vernon, BC native has earned two points (1-1-2) in five playoff ganse with the Winterhawks this season. His team currently leads the Spokane Chiefs 3-2 in a best-of-seven series.
CLINCH OR GO HOME
With only seven games left in the regular season, the Canucks need to work extra hard to clinch a playoff spot, win their division, and gain home ice advantage for the first round.
Last season the Canucks won four out of their last seven games. This year they are facing five of the same teams they played last year, and they’re hoping to have similar or better results this time around.
The Canucks have 94 points (45-26-4), only five ahead of the Colorado Avalanche (41-27-7) who never seem to disappear from the picture, and only five shy of the second place Chicago Blackhawks (46-21-7).
Vancouver’s top line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Alex Burrows has combined for 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in the last five games while the other three lines together have produced 12. The second line of Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond, and Michael Grabner recorded seven points (three goals, four assists) but have combined for 49 shots, 10 more than the Sedin-Sedin-Burrows line. The chances are there, they are just looking to finish.
"I like the chances that line is creating," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. "I like the speed element, the turnovers, and they need to finish. It's like anything else, if they want to stay together they have to contribute at both ends of the rink and I think right now defensively we have no issues with how they're playing. Offensively, they're getting grade A chances. I just hope that once they get one they'll get on a roll."
Sixteen of the second line’s 49 shots have come from recently recalled Grabner who is still looking for his first goal since his return to the team.
"I want to get myself going and get some confidence," said Grabner. "I've been getting unlucky bounces lately so hopefully I get one and get on a roll."
The Canucks are tied for first in the league for home wins at 27-8-2, and with four of their last seven on home ice, the Canucks hope to play with confidence like they have at home, bring that onto the road and into the playoffs.
"I don't think we've clinched anything yet," said Roberto Luongo. "Colorado's right there, and we're five points back of Chicago. There's still seven games left, you never know what could happen. We have to keep on winning and more importantly we want to get on a roll and go into the playoffs feeling good about ourselves."