FALLING INTO PLACE
The eagerly awaited game debut of Mats Sundin may only be one sleep away. Since arriving in Vancouver, the superstar Swede has been surrounded by speculation around when he will be game ready.
Following practice this morning Sundin, skating alongside Kyle Wellwood and Mason Raymond
for the second day in a row, declared he felt good and would likely see ice time in Wednesday's game in Edmonton.
“It feels like if nothing changes tomorrow morning, I think there is a good chance I’ll play tomorrow,” said Sundin. “If not, then obviously Friday. Unless I feel worse tomorrow morning or tonight I think there is a good chance I’ll play tomorrow.
“I’m looking forward to getting back playing the game, but at the same time I want to make sure I’m ready physically so that I can stay in the lineup and not come back too quick and get hurt or anything like that.”
Adding Sundin to the lineup certainly offers some impressive benefits. While his teammates are excited to see what he can bring to the table, they are focused on their game plan, staying out of the box and working hard, as they head into Rexall Place.
“It’s going to be important, we’ve been good at staying out of the box the last couple games, but myself included we’ve taken a couple bad penalties,” said Ryan Kesler
. “If we stay out of the box and stay committed to the game plan we’ll be fine.
“It’s very important [heading into Edmonton]. They’re a good team in their building, especially on the power play they’ve got some skilled players and as I said we’ve got to eliminate the dumb ones and we’ll kill off the good penalties. We’ve got to stay disciplined tomorrow.
“I think it’d be good [Sundin playing tomorrow], but at the same time we have to realize that we still have to work hard, we can’t just rely on him. He’s a great player, he’s a skilled player, an all-star in this league, but our identity is hard work and that’s what we've got to keep doing.”
Sundin adds depth to the Canucks squad that recently has relied heavily on the Sedins line for offence. With Sundin on board the Canucks pose more of a challenge to opposing teams trying to shutdown their top lines.
“The only way to get him to pace where the NHL is right now is to put him in and put him in gradually and let him work through the inactivity that he’s had here," said head coach Alain Vigneault.
“I’m interested to see where he is. And I do think that once he finds his rhythm here that without a doubt he’s going to help us. Our centre line here with Henrik, him, and Kes, and Ryan [Johnson] when Ryan is healthy that’s a pretty good centre line right now." MOOSE COUNTRY
As Sundin prepares to lace up his skates for his first game as a Canuck, Jannik Hansen
heads back to Manitoba for the first time since last year, after playing 37 games with the Canucks so far this season.
The gritty Dane posted 17 points (3-14-17) in the first half of the season with Vancouver, but his production has leveled off as of late.
“Jannik for the last seven or eight games, we felt that his play had slipped a little bit," said Vigneault. "Obviously we talked to him about it and when push came to shove, these last few games here we thought Jaffray and Bolduc were a little bit better.
“Jannik in our mind is a player that is going to be a big contributor for the Vancouver Canucks. He’s a smart player, he can play at both ends of the rink well. He had a lot of points at the beginning, now he’s in a little bit of a slump, if you can call it that, one goal in 25 or 26 games, but his play had slipped a little bit. That’s part of the learning curve.
“Sometimes players need a bit of a wakeup call, with the young guys that don’t need waivers that’s one of the tools you can use. In Jannik’s case we definitely think he is going to contribute to the success of this team. At this time right now he needs to find his game and hopefully he’ll find it sooner rather than later.”HODGSON WINS GOLD
The Canucks top draft pick from the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Cody Hodgson contributed a thrilling performance to Team Canada's gold medal victory over the Swedish junior team in the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships in Ottawa last night.
Appointed an assistant captain of Pat Quinn's young squad, Hodgson played a key leadership role, also tallying a tournament leading 16 points (5-11-16). Team Canada earned their fifth consecutive gold medal in the junior tournament.
In last night's 5-1 win over Sweden, Hodgson set up teammate P.K. Subban for the game opening goal, before chipping in one himself to put Team Canada ahead 3-0. Before the game was over Hodgson also tallied an empty-net goal to end the game.
He was voted to the tournament all-star team alongside John Tavares, who earned most valuable player honours, and Canadian defenceman Subban of the Ontario Hockey League’s Belleville Bulls.