The Vancouver Canucks held an optional skate this morning as the team prepares to face off against the Boston Bruins tonight. The teams haven’t met since December 2006 when the Canucks fell 2-0 to the Bruins in Boston. The Bruins have not won a game at GM Place in over six years.
Former Vancouver Giant and Memorial Cup Champion Milan Lucic makes his first visit to General Motors Place as a pro tonight when his team pays a rare visit to Vancouver. The Vancouver-native, was the captain of Team Canada at the Super Series the last time he played on GM Place ice.
Goaltenders Roberto Luongo
and Curtis Sanford both dressed for this morning's optional practice and were joined on the ice by defencemen Kevin Bieksa
, Rob Davison, Sami Salo
, Willie Mitchell, Alex Edler, and Lawrence Nycholat and forwards Ryan Johnson, Mike Brown, Darcy Hordichuk, and Jason Krog.
Salo who was sidelined with a groin injury in Chicago will be back in the lineup, replacing Rob Davison on the blueline. The Canucks are still missing Rick Rypien who requires surgery for a sports hernia injury and Pavol Demitra who is out with a broken rib. Kyle Wellwood and Jason Krog who were recalled from the Manitoba Moose will remain on the roster.
Luongo worked on facing angled shots and controlling rebounds with Nycholat, Brown, and Krog, while the rest of the group skated in the other end of the rink with assistant coach Darryl Williams, who is responsible for video, running passing and shooting drills.
The Canucks face off against the Bruins tonight in Vancouver, playing only their third regular season game at home this year after departing on a 12 day road trip following the season opener.
“We’ve played two pretty good games here and we’ve got a little bit more jump here for obvious reasons, the fans get behind us and we kind of feed off of that,” said Bieksa.BRUINS IN TOWN
As the team prepares to square off against the Bruins, the Canucks will be looking to capitalize on the success of their power play that that was 4 for 6 on Saturday when Edmonton was in town. The Canucks will look to break out of the blocks early tonight and keep the productivity of the Bruins' star players to a minimum.
“Patrice Bergeron is a great player, has great speed, and competes hard," said Mitchell. "Marc Savard is a guy who you want to outweigh, a great passer, and the young kid Milan Lucic plays hard, finishes his checks, and competes. You know [Zdeno] Chara is on the back end, so it’s more the individuals. We don’t see them that much, so I don’t know how their style of play is going to be, but we’ll talk about that more this evening before the game.
"They played a game last night, so start for us is going to be key. Always when you’re playing teams on back to back you want to try and come out and get a good start. And usually when you get a good start in this league usually things work out in your favour.”
With Salo back in the lineup and Bieksa playing at the top of his game after returning from a minor knee injury suffered at the beginning of the season, the Canucks are icing a healthy blueline that drastically improves their special teams' play.
“[In Saturday's game] we were moving the puck around and were getting our shots on net," said Bieksa. "I think that was the key thing. We weren’t getting as many [shots] blocked and we were unpredicatable. We weren’t just setting up and moving it around the parameter. We were attacking on the rush, we were getting shots from different angles so it was a combination of things.”
As the Canucks move forward they continue to work on key elements of their game, most notably their special teams and starts.
“We’re not giving up more chances than we have in the past and we’re generating a few more offensively, with good starts we’ll be pretty close to having our A-game on the table on a nightly basis," said head coach Alain Vigneault.OTHER NEWS:
Tune in after tonight's game against the Boston Bruins to watch live post-game interviews from the Canucks dressing room and Coach Alain Vigneault's press conference.