Mason building career
Ben Kuzma said Mason Raymond
is beginning to show his potential as a promising young winger for the Canucks.
"Not only did Raymond record his first NHL goal on Wednesday after being recalled from the Manitoba Moose, he's serving notice that his pro career is locked on fast forward," said Kuzma.
"Raymond recorded a five-point AHL outing in a 5-3 win over Rochester on Nov. 21 and has amassed 14 points in 17 games with the Moose."
"I feel I can play at this level and getting that first goal is a nice obstacle to get out of the way, but I still have a lot to prove," Raymond said Sunday. "That comes from within me and hopefully I get the next opportunity to be in the lineup on Tuesday."
Kuzma said, "The 22-year-old had three points in three games last week and was a plus-2. On his goal, he took a cross-ice feed from Jason Jaffray and snapped a quick shot home. Raymond then set up Jaffray for his first NHL goal."
"Confidence is an amazing thing," said Raymond.
"Getting those goals helped us a lot. When you have confidence you can ride it a lot and it's something that's kind of hard to explain, to tell you the truth. I feel better all the time."
"It's tough at first but if you don't get your head around it, you really suffer and you may not get that [NHL] chance again. You've got to go down there with a positive attitude and just work hard and hopefully get the next call."
THE VANCOUVER SUN
Understudy working overtime
Iain MacIntyre said although the team finds this schedule one of the worst in Canucks history, it may have been one of the best for goalie Curtis Sanford.
"With Saturday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the Vancouver Canuck backup netminder accomplished something as rare as Roberto Luongo
's 31/2-hour shutout streak that ended earlier this month: Four straight starts on Luongo's team," said MacIntyre.
"No understudy to Luongo, who shuts down as often as Google, has had such a prolific run in the last five years. And although Sanford managed to go only 1-2-1 on the four-game trip that capped the Canucks' seven-game, seven-city, 11-day Survivor NHL episode, the 28-year-old showed he is capable of playing regularly if Luongo gets injured again. This is likely to happen sometime in the 2012-13 season."
"It felt pretty good," Luongo said after working on the ice with injured teammate Brad Isbister Saturday morning. "I'm definitely skating with the team [today], then I'll go out Tuesday and see how it feels and hopefully I'll be able to play.
"It's been hard just to watch the games up top. Obviously, you want to be out there. I guess it makes you appreciate the game, more than anything else."
"Luongo described his injury week as 'terrible'," said MacIntyre.
"It was terribly good for Sanford, who started only three of the Canucks' first 29 games."
"I think you're always proving yourself," Sanford said. "Every time I come to the rink, I'm proving myself. I played five out of the last six games. I don't think anybody who's played with Roberto can say that. It will be nice getting him back, but I've sure liked getting the playing time."
"I thought he played excellent," Vigneault said. "He really battled and gave us a chance. Our guys are really confident when he's in goal. He's a great kid and we're really happy to have him on our side."
THE VANCOUVER SUN
Canucks giving it away in shootouts
Iain MacIntyre admits he doesn?t have any direct experience playing hockey, but he still wonders why the Canucks don?t practice shootouts when they haven't won at least one this season.
"Edmonton has only six regulation-time wins in 34 games this season, which means opponents have taken points from the Oilers 28 times. They should be gathering draft-lottery balls as we speak," said MacIntyre.
"Instead, the Oilers were tied Sunday for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference -- only four points behind the Canucks -- because Edmonton is spectacularly good at the breakaway skills competition that made National Hockey League ties extinct."
"The Oilers are 10-1 in shootouts this season and 3-0 against the Canucks, who are 0-4. Vancouver's other shootout loss was against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who with a 4-1 record are second to the amazing Oilers in NHL shootout rankings," MacIntyre said.
"And the Canucks' frenetic schedule -- 17 games in the last 31 days -- hasn't allowed much meaningful practice time for anything."
MacIntyre said, "But Vancouver is last in the NHL in shootouts. They are 29th out of 30 teams because the Buffalo Sabres haven't yet been in a shootout."
"Shouldn't teams practise anything they're worst at?"
"Maybe. And I think we're looking into that, too," Canuck captain Markus Naslund said Saturday. "We definitely need to win more shootouts. There are a lot of points we lost because of it. It is definitely a concern."
"Shootouts are a different type of circumstance," he said. "Right now, we're on the wrong side of it. I'm confident that sooner or later it will come our way. We can only do what we've been doing. We work on it at certain times during practice and you've got to trust your players' instincts."
"Yeah, I think it is a concern," Ryan Kesler
said after he was the only Canuck to beat Garon. "As players, we have to take it upon ourselves ... to work at it on your own in practice. We've got to do something because these points are going to be important at the end."
Road trip takes uneven toll
Gordon McIntyre said that this long and grueling road trip fittingly ended to a shootout loss in Edmonton.
"That was one of the toughest stretches I've ever been associated with," said coach Alain Vigneault, a man who has paid his dues coaching in Winnipeg and various QMJHL stops. "The tank is empty. We'll rejuvenate [Sunday], practise [today] and we'll be ready for our next four-in-six."
"The grind was tough enough on the healthy ones. The Canucks also lost Brendan Morrison (wrist surgery), Roberto Luongo
(bruised ribs) Brad Isbister (hamstring) and Ryan Kesler
(flu for one game) to the infirmary," said McIntyre.
"Try throwing up in the tunnel between shifts for the 40-of-60 minutes you're not on the ice, then hopping on a plane -- then a bus -- just to check into the next town at 2 a.m."
"This trip was tough enough anyway," said Kesler, who played almost 20 minutes between vomiting and diarrhea on Wednesday but who had to sit out Thursday's game. "But travelling when you're sick ... after the Anaheim game I just wanted to find a bed and lie down, but of course I couldn't."
McIntyre said, "It wasn't November's 9-2-2 record, but the Canucks are 3-3-2 in December, bang on for the prototypical target of a .500 road record."
"That's probably the toughest road trip I've ever been on in my career," said Willie Mitchell said. "It was ugly but we managed to persevere -- .500 on the road on a tough trip like that? Not bad, not great."
"I guess we'll live with it."