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Great Returns

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
DEC.12.06

ON THE MEND


Yesterday's practice saw Rory Fitzpatrick, Josh Green, and Taylor Pyatt on the ice for the first time since their injuries. Fitzpatrick and Green participated in the full skate, while Pyatt opted to do off-ice training.

"Today's my first day back and it felt pretty good, now it's just a matter of getting in shape and getting my timing back and getting my legs underneath me," said Fitzpatrick.

The 6'2 defenceman from Rochester, who's recently gained some fame through the all-star voting isn't pressured by the attention to rush his recovery, even though fans are anxious to see him back in action.

"I think one practice after five weeks isn't going to cut it, so just a couple more practices, get some timing down and I'll be ready to go."

"Hopefully later this week, I think [Tuesday] will be too soon with just one practice but hopefully soon after that I'll be able to get in the lineup."

There's even more good news coming from the doctor's office.

"Pyatt's case is positive," said Alain Vigneault. "It's coming along quicker than we anticipated and Sami's on pace so maybe sometime this week, maybe Saturday."


FAMILIAR FRIEND

The anticipation of the Coyotes visit today is causing a buzz amongst the reporters and in the dressing room.

A visit from the Great One, Wayne Gretzky is always news but this time around there's even bigger news. Former Vancouver Canuck defenceman, Ed Jovanovski, returns to GM Place since signing with Phoenix in the summer.

Although it'll be weird for fans to see Jovo on the other bench, it's an even bigger adjustment for Brendan Morrison.

"He was my roommate here so we're pretty close. At the same time it's going to be fun, anytime you get a chance to play against one of your friends, it's a lot of fun. I spoke to him the other day, he's pretty excited to come back into town and obviously he wants to play well." The fight for the two points isn't any less intense because they're friends.

"He's going to come out and play with a lot of energy, a lot of excitement like he normally does. I don't think he's going to let anyone off the hook if he gets the chance."

Jovanovski was limited to only 44 games with the Canucks last season due to a series of injuries finishing with 33 points (8-25-33). In 29 games with the Coyotes this season, he already has six goals and 10 assists.


BACK TO BASICS

With seven goals in their last two games, the Canucks have scored more goals than they have in their past six. Those two games resulted in a win to the Stanley Cup champions and a loss to a bitter division rival.

Seven goals in two games is definitely something the Canucks are not accustomed to this season but look like they may have just found something that works - maybe something easier than they originally thought.

"I think we kept it more simple, we got more traffic in front of the net, and the rebounds," said Jan Bulis, who earned his first point in 13 games against Carolina on Friday. "The power-play goes off on the rebounds. I think just keep it simple, one or two passes."

"I think we've simplified it more," says Markus Naslund. "We're shooting the puck, and getting traffic in front and rebounds and deflections. It just shows how much you have to go back to basics."

In a season where special teams and scoring has been the biggest issue, it looks like those are starting to look up but one thing the Canucks have been vocal about is their lack of consistency.

Now it's a matter of putting their tight defensive style developed at the beginning of the season with a Canuck team that can score both with the man advantage and five-on-five. In the last two games, six of their seven goals were scored on the power-play, which has improved to 14.7%, still only 25th in the league.

"That's been part of our challenge this year about getting all the pieces to come together and that's what good teams have to do," said Vigneault.

"All those areas at one time or another were there, once we get them clicking we're going to win those consecutive games that we need to get to the playoffs. Right now we're right in the thick of things and we haven't put all the areas together at the same time."

 

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