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Press Round-Up: APR.03.08

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
Four days left in the regular season and a slew of scenarios

The Province breaks down the possible post-season scenarios as it pertains to the last two seeds in the Western Conference:

Here's the rundown of scenarios for the playoffs with just four days left in the schedule.

1. If Vancouver beats Edmonton tonight:
Still in the hunt, in ninth place, even if Nashville beats St. Louis and Calgary beats Minnesota. If Nashville loses, Vancouver moves into eighth, one point up on the Predators.

2. If Vancouver loses to Edmonton:
Canucks miss the playoffs if Nashville beats St. Louis. Still alive, one point back of eighth, if St. Louis beats Nashville. Still alive, two points back, if Nashville loses in OT or shootout.

3. If Vancouver loses in overtime or shootout to Edmonton:
Canucks miss the playoffs if Nashville beats St. Louis -- remaining two points back with one game to go, but unable to match Nashville's wins total in case of a points tie at end of season. If Nashville loses, teams tied in points but Nashville ahead due to one more win on season.

4. Vancouver finishes seventh in the West:
Canucks beat Edmonton, then Calgary on Saturday; Calgary loses last two games; Nashville picks up no more than three points in final two games. A three-way tie for seventh gives that spot to Canucks by virtue of greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs; Flames knocked out.

5. Vancouver finishes eighth:
A number of ways to do it.

6. Vancouver finishes 10th:
Oilers beat Canucks tonight, Flames beat Canucks Saturday; Chicago wins two of final three games (including last night vs. Detroit). Oilers and Blackhawks pass Canucks.
Pyatt joins Canuck hit list: Concussion means winger misses game
Brad Ziemer said Taylor Pyatt is the latest Canuck to be leveled by the injury bug:

Given the kind of season it has been, it seems only fitting the Vancouver Canucks have yet another key injury to deal with as they attempt to keep their dwindling playoff hopes alive.

Winger Taylor Pyatt will miss tonight's game against the Edmonton Oilers with a concussion suffered in Tuesday's loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Pyatt joins forwards Brendan Morrison and Mason Raymond and defencemen Mattias Ohlund, Aaron Miller and Lukas Krajicek on the shelf.

Coach Alain Vigneault was offering up his best stiff upper lip when asked if his team was simply too beat up -- physically and mentally -- to rally and make the playoffs.

"This is not a time to analyze what we have healthy and what we don't," Vigneault said Wednesday. "What we have right now is 12 healthy forwards and seven healthy Ds and we need to find a way to win with this group."

Rypien will take Pyatt's spot in the lineup tonight. Having used up all of their recalls, the Canucks were not permitted to summon any other bodies from Manitoba.

"I'm definitely excited," said Rypien. "I haven't played in a while so my energy level should be higher than normal."
Can the Canucks find their pulse?
Edmonton's season is dead and Vancouver needs the win tonight to stay alive

Ben Kuzma said Vancouver must bring it’s A-game with their season on the line:

In his endless search for a silver lining, Alain Vigneault at least acknowledges the dark cloud hanging above his club.

If part of solving a problem is admitting you have one, then the Vancouver Canucks may live longer than expected this troubling NHL season.

"You can't expect the guys to be jumping out of their boots here," the Canucks coach responded Wednesday when asked to gauge the mood of his confusing club. "We need help. That being said, we need to help ourselves and for us to have a chance we have to beat Edmonton."

The Canucks are on the brink of missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons because they can't stay healthy, can't hold leads, can't rally from deficits and can't get clutch goaltending.

With five losses in their past six outings raising all kinds of questions about how the club was constructed and coached, the Canucks can go a long way to delaying that prolonged post-mortem tonight.

As much as the Canucks own a 4-0-3 record against the Oilers this season -- including a dominant 4-1 win in Edmonton on March 20 and fight-filled 4-2 triumph here on Feb.16 -- playing spoiler will bring out the motivational best in coach Craig MacTavish.

"To try and knock out another Canadian opponent, I'm sure they're going to give it their best shot," said Vigneault. "We seem to play well against our Canadian opponents and I'm confident that's going to happen."

With the Oilers out of the playoff mix, they'll be loose because the game will be more about pride than points. The Canucks?

"It's hard to be loose, but you've got to be loose," said winger Jeff Cowan. "We had a great game against them last time, but that means nothing.

"You can build from it, but the guys have to give a little more and be ready to go. We know they're going to play a hard game. They fought hard trying to get into the playoffs and they're a young and enthusiastic team."

The Oilers are on a 13-5-1 roll since Feb. 26, because they've been able to outscore their problems. They've had six-seven- and eight-goal outings and have outgunned the opposition 64-61 in that span.
Canucks try to stay loose

Matthew Sekeres said the Canucks are trying not to focus on all the possible scenarios, but simply on winning the game:

"We had a good meeting this morning with our guys about where our focus needs to be," head coach Alain Vigneault said yesterday. "Obviously, we are trying to keep this positive.

"You can't expect guys to be jumping out of their boots here. We need help, but that being said, we need to help ourselves."

Just two weeks ago, the Canucks were playing a home game against the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Northwest Division. A win that night would have put the Canucks eight points clear of where they currently sit: in ninth place in the conference and on the periphery of the postseason picture.

But Vancouver has now lost five of six games, including a four-game skid where it did not earn a single point — going into a home game tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. The swoon has allowed the Nashville Predators to move into the final playoff spot in the West.

The Canucks are a defence-first club with a world-class goaltender, and protecting leads has been a trademark, notable by its second best record in the NHL when leading after two periods. The Canucks have blown two-goal leads and gone on to lose just three times this season, but two of them have come in the past nine days to teams they have been directly competing against for playoff berths.

"[The] point is a valid one," Vigneault said when asked about his team not responding to adversity while holding leads. "I agree with you 100 per cent on that one.

"The strong suit of our team has been that, once we get a lead, we are able to hang on and get it done. … Lately, we haven't done it."

Goaltender Roberto Luongo has not been his normal all-star self. In fact, he has looked mediocre, giving up four goals and more in three of the past four games.

"My concern right now is that Roberto needs to bring his A-game to the table," Vigneault said. "If we stand any chance of winning [tonight] and playing on Saturday for a playoff position, Roberto needs to be what he has always been for us. He needs to be our best player."

"I think so," Luongo responded when asked whether he needed to play better. "It's going to be important for me to make sure I prepare as well as I can, and when game time starts [today], I'm at my best."
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