The Vancouver Canucks were back skating at GM Place today following a six-game road trip. The team seemed revived to be home, skating the drills with energy and intensity.
One notable skater to take the ice for this morning's practice was Darcy Hordichuk who sustained a MCL sprain in the 4-2 loss in Chicago. He looked comfortable skating and participating in the drills. Judging from how he performed in practice head coach Alain Vigneault expects that the left winger will be in the line up for Saturday's match up against Edmonton.
Rick Rypien who was sent home prior to the game in Chicago with a viral illness is still being advised by doctors to stay away from the rink. Sami Salo
's groin injury continues to be day to day. The veteran defenceman skated by himself today and will be evaluated tomorrow to see how his recovery is progressing.
Pavol Demitra who is out with a rib injury, which he also suffered during the Chicago match up will likely remain out of the line up for a while. Kyle Wellwood or Jason Krog will play in his place.
"First results back [from Demitra's MRI] are that he's got a fractured cartilage in his eighth rib, so he's going to see a specialist tomorrow and right now we're looking 3-4 weeks.SPECIALTY TEAMS
The Canucks special teams dropped in productivity and effectiveness during the road trip and Vigneault and his coaching staff spent half of practice today working on the power play and penalty killing units.
"We've really analyzed a lot of the goals that we've given up and structurally we're in pretty good shape," said Vigneault.
"We're really close in my mind to being again, one of the top penalty killing team in the league. We have the personnel to do that. For some reason right now on this road trip we got on a negative role. That being said about the penalty killing I feel we've got the elements to have a good power play and for whatever reasons we got away from what we were doing at the beginning. We're just working on making the adjustments and we're going ot keep working on it, on the ice and on the video."
The power play combinations that skated in practice included a grouping of Henrik and Daniel Sedin
with Krog, Alex Edler, and Kevin Bieska. The other group featured Mason Raymond
, Mattias Ohlund, Ryan Kesler
, Steve Bernier, and Wellwood. The penalty killing groups were Willie Mitchell with Shane O'Brien, Mike Brown, and Alex Burrows and Taylor Pyatt with Lawrence Nycholat, Ryan Johnson, and Rob Davison.
Wellwood, who was recalled for Tuesday's game in Columbus and tallied a goal and assist, was feeling good on the ice and working hard in practice to make his mark.
"It's going to take time to build chemistry on a power play, we've had different guys out and different situations," said Wellwood. "For me it's just a matter of making plays when you finally get a chance."
"That's what it's going to be for me, it's a matter of holding on to the puck and making plays with the puck and getting goals. That's what I've got to do."RESTORING CONFIDENCE
Goaltender Roberto Luongo
is first to admit that his game hasn't been consistently at its highest level so far this season. While, he is not concerned, like everyone else on the team he is working diligently to get his play to where it needs to be to win games.
"We didn't get the results we wanted on the road trip, but we're back home now and we got a good days practice to get back on track," said Luongo.
"I've been feeling pretty good about the way I'm moving and seeing the puck. Unfortunately the results have not been there for me right now, but there's only one thing I can do, and that's work hard at practice and make sure that once the games roll around I'm ready to go. Things will turn around eventually."
Vigneault pointed out that at even strength the team has played well, generating more chances than they ever have. The team and coaches are confident that once the special teams start doing what they are capable of, the team will find success. The players are determined to fix the problem areas that were identified in their early losses this season.
"No team in this league, with the competitive nature of the league, can win consistently if your best players aren't your best players night in and night out," said Vigneault. "Right now our guys are working extremely hard to get to that level. Roberto was on the ice an hour before everybody today. The twins are working as hard as I've ever seen them play. So, as a coach, as an organization, you've got to support your personnel when you see them doing the extra that they're doing right now. And you've just got to believe that sooner rather than later we're going to get on a roll."OTHER NEWS:
The Canucks Open Practice
presented by BC Hydro Power Smart, will be streamed live on canucks.com. The practice will take place Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. Fans will have the opportunity to watch the players take to the ice in preparation of their match up against the Boston Bruins.