The Vancouver Canucks reassigned Lawrence Nycholat to the Manitoba Moose today, prior to tonight’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes, for a conditioning assignment.
The 29 year old defenceman has played 3 games with the Canucks this regular season. Nycholat, a Calgary, Alberta native, was acquired from Ottawa on September 2, 2008 in exchange for Ryan Shannon.
“It was just a matter of [the Manitoba Moose] having three games coming up in four nights, so he can get some games in because he hasn’t played for a while,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. HEAD TO HEAD
The Canucks match up against the Coyotes tonight at GM Place. Both teams are coming off victories and looking to extend their winning streaks, but the Canucks (7-6-0) playing at the top of their game should be a tough challenge for Phoenix (5-5-0). Their special teams clicked in Tuesday's game against Nashville with the power play contributing two goals and the penalty kill executing a flawless performance.
The Canucks held an energetic optional team skate this morning in preparation for the game.
“What we saw, especially from [the Coyotes'] game in Calgary, we saw a hard forechecking team and they play with a lot of spirit and jump on the ice,” said Vigneault. “Obviously we are going to prepare our team to face that. They’ve got their identity and we’ve got ours, we’re a hard working team at both ends of the rink, that plays a high percentage game and we’re going to continue to do that.”
After dropping the first game of a six-game home stand on Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks bounced back with Tuesday's convincing 4-0 win over Nashville. The game marked the seventh time this season the Canucks have scored four-or-more goals in a game.
“We had a bad road trip to start the year, then we came home for two and were back on the road for two, and now we’re home for quite a while. To make the playoffs and be successful in this league you have to win your home games, so we got a good start against Nashville and hopefully we can start putting a few wins together," said defenceman Shane O'Brien.
Former Canuck d-man Ed Jovanovski and the Coyotes are looking to sweep their short two-game Northwest Division road trip after winning 4-2 in Calgary on Tuesday night.
New Westminster native and former Burnaby Express player, Kyle Turris, drafted 3rd overall by Phoenix in 2007, will likely make his first pro appearance at GM Place tonight. However, head coach Wayne Gretzky has not yet revealed if Turris, who was a healthy scratch in their last game, will return to the lineup in his hometown.GAME PLAN
In their last outing, the Canucks killed off all six Predator power plays in the 4-0 decision on Tuesday. It was an impressive turnaround from the six power-play goals they gave up in their previous two games. The Canucks' penalty kill has moved from 26th to 11th and the team is focused on continually improving their special teams.
The Canucks' defensive pairs reflect minor shuffling and will feature Sami Salo
playing with Mattias Ohlund and O’Brien with Alex Edler. Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa
will remain on the same line. The expected offensive lines for tonight’s game are as follows:
D. Sedin - H. Sedin – Ouellet
Burrows – Kesler – Raymond
Pyatt – Wellwood – Bernier
Hordichuk – Johnson – Brown
Michel Ouellet looks to make the most of his opportunity playing on the Canucks' top line with the Sedins tonight. The young winger hopes to prove his offensive skills and earn a roster spot.
"I need to always be ready, because they can find me anywhere on the ice," said Ouellet. "That’s what the assistant coach told me, to be ready every time, to put my stick on the ice and they will find it. I’ve always been an offensive player and now I have the opportunity to prove myself on an offensive line here, so I have to take care of it.
“I just think I need to play my game and do the little things, not lose the puck at the blueline and get the puck out of the zone. I think it’s the same game for me, if I think too much or put too much pressure on myself, I won’t play as well as I can.”
The Canucks are 6-1-0 when they score first and will look to break out of the boxes quickly tonight against the Coyotes' young, fast team.
Tonight’s game faces off at 7:00pm PST and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific.