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Press Round-Up: FEB.06.08

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
THE VANCOUVER SUN
Shot down in Dallas: Canucks overcome injury woes to make it to shootout -- then lose to Stars
Brad Ziemer said Canucks grinded out a much deserved point Tuesday night.


“It wasn't exactly Super Tuesday, but it certainly turned out to be a better day than many expected for the Vancouver Canucks. Against considerable odds, the undermanned Canucks found a way to earn themselves a point Tuesday night,” said Ziemer.

“They lost again, 3-2 in a shootout to the Dallas Stars, but considering the circumstances that's not such a bad thing.”

“With their defence already banged up, the Canucks played Tuesday night without Mattias Ohlund, who is home on undisclosed personal business, and veteran Aaron Miller, who sat out with a hairline fracture of his right foot. Willie Mitchell, Lukas Krajicek and Kevin Bieksa are all nursing injuries back in Vancouver,” said Ziemer.

“That meant another member of the Manitoba Moose got to play. Rookie Zack FitzGerald played his first NHL game alongside three other rookies -- Alex Edler, Nathan McIver and Luc Bourdon. They joined veterans Sami Salo and Mike Weaver on the Vancouver blue line.”

"That's the one thing that we demand in our team is a solid effort whatever the circumstances are," said Canuck coach Alain Vigneault. "I can't complain about our effort. Obviously, we had opportunities to win the game tonight in the shootout, we couldn't put it together, but our guys battled really hard."

“The Canucks lost despite great games from their two big-money players. Roberto Luongo was very good in goal, especially in the third period, and captain Markus Naslund scored two goals and was the only Canuck to beat Dallas goalie Marty Turco in a shootout that went to six rounds,” said Ziemer.

"Markus was our leader tonight and Lui made some good saves at the right time and our young D was good," Vigneault said. "I think our No. 1 identity is our work ethic throughout our organization and right now the results aren't going our way, but I have to believe if we keep working the way we are the bounces are going to come our way."

“Jussi Jokinen and Naslund scored on their team's first shots of the shootout and then no one scored until Brenden Morrow beat Luongo stick side on Dallas's sixth shot. Taylor Pyatt was then stopped by Turco to end the night,” said Ziemer.

"I like my place in the shootout, not much is expected of me," said Morrow. "I knew I wanted to go high and I wanted to be make sure I put it on net."

“Luongo was about the only guy in the Canuck dressing room who didn't seem to see the value of the point earned,” said Ziemer.

"We worked hard, but we didn't win the game," he said. "We have to find ways to win." Luongo did not want to hear about the Canucks' injury woes on defence. Of the players projected to be Vancouver's top six defencemen at the beginning of the season, only Salo suited up and he was returning after missing two games with a groin injury.

"I have said it before, it's not an excuse," said Luongo. "It doesn't matter who is playing back there. Guys are capable of stepping up and doing a good job. They did a great job tonight and it's about guys stepping up and doing a good job. We can't use that as an excuse. Those guys (the Stars) are just as banged up as we are on defence."

“The Canucks, now losers of four straight, fell to 26-21-7. They have 59 points and remain 10th in the Western Conference, two points behind the eighth-place Nashville Predators,” said Ziemer.

“The Canucks opened scoring, at 12:50 of the first period, on a Naslund power-play goal. Salo started the play when he faked a shot from the point and directed the puck to Mason Raymond in the left corner. Raymond flipped the puck to Naslund who let go a quick wrist shot from the edge of the left faceoff circle that beat Turco glove side.”

“The Stars tied it at 16:40 of the first when Morrow's shot from the left circle hit the skate of Canuck winger Alex Burrows and past Luongo.”

“After Jere Lehtinen had put the Stars in front, Naslund tied the game late in the second. He scored his 19th of the season and second of the night at 18:47 of the second thanks in no small part to some nice work by Byron Ritchie, who outmuscled Stars' defenceman Mattias Norstrom for the puck,” said Ziemer.

"We definitely battled hard tonight," Naslund said. "Lui played a great game back there. In a shootout it can go either way and unfortunately we have not had the luck or whatever you want to call it to win the shootout games. They are all big, we obviously need every point we can get."
THE PROVINCE
Zach Fitz right in -- in Krajicek's gear: He gets to Dallas before equipment


Ben Kuzma said Zach Fitzgerald played his first NHL game without his own gear.

“Zach Fitzgerald arrived in time to play his first NHL game, but his equipment didn't,” said Kuzma.

“Recalled to replace the injured Aaron Miller, the Manitoba Moose defenceman donned the skates and equipment of the ailing Lukas Krajicek on Tuesday against Dallas.”

"I was running on a lot of adrenaline and a little worried about the equipment," said Fitzgerald. "I was lucky to fit into all that stuff. It was well broken in for me. But at the same time, I just wanted to put it behind me and play simple."

“The skates and equipment fit and Fitzgerald was a respectable fit on a battered blueline missing five of six players projected to start the season on the back end,” said Kuzma.

"It was a long day," understated the 22-year-old Two Harbours, Minn., native. "We [Moose] were on our way to Peoria [Ill.] and got stuck in the airport for a bit in Minneapolis. We had a flight to Milwaukee and then another dropoff [from the team bus] in Chicago to drop me off."

"I got out of there at 8 a.m. [Tuesday], got here at 12 p.m., had a little lunch and a nap." And then 13:20 of ice time in a pairing with Alex Edler. For the most part, Fitzgerald held his own, but had a few adventurous moments -- like losing his stick in the third period with the game tied 2-2 and forcing Roberto Luongo to make a tough save of Brenden Morrow.

"I was nervous but happy with my game and the last few shifts I wasn't too excited about," he said. "But at the same time, it was just so exciting to be out there and see Mike Modano coming down on you."

“Rick Bowness handles the Canucks back end and is hard-pressed to recall a similar dilemma is his 26-year coaching career that has included NHL stops in Winnipeg, Boston, Ottawa, Long Island and Phoenix,” said Kuzma.

“The Canucks have already missed 101 man-games on the back end to injury.”

"This ranks right up there," Bowness said. "There will be a lot of situational decisions made -- time on the clock, the score and faceoffs -- and the biggest challenge will be to get the right pairings on the ice.
THE WINNIPEG PRESS
Manitoba D gets A for effort: Moose blue-liners big difference in sparkling road win over Rivermen
Tim Campbell said a hard-nosed effort from a depleted blueline earns the Moose two points.

“No disrespect to any of Max Fortunus, Shaun Heshka, Jimmy Sharrow, Daniel Rahimi and Matt Kelly, but as a pro defence group, they might not have attracted a bid from an eBay bargain hunter,” said Campbell.

“There is value in being underestimated, however. The five young Manitoba Moose blue-liners did everything that was asked of them and more -- contributing two goals -- to lift the Moose to a tidy 4-1 road victory over the Peoria Rivermen before 2,869 fans at Carver Arena on Tuesday night.”

"I talked to them before the game about having five D and our forwards having to do a lot of the work but I thought it was just a yeoman's effort from our defence," said Moose coach Scott Arniel. "People like Daniel Rahimi and Matt Kelly and our regulars Sharrow, Fortunus and Heshka did a great job and when you get mileage from those five guys, it certainly helps you out a lot.

"And our forwards helped in the process."

“Arniel rolled four lines through much of the game and it really paid off when the Moose extended a 1-0 first-period lead into 3-0 in the second,” said Campbell.

"I think we just stuck with it and for once, we scored first," said Moose centre Brad Moran of Rahimi's first-period marker. "I think they're hurting, they're sick and we thought we could jump on them and keep going."

“The Rivermen have a flu bug going through their locker-room and had three players called up from the former UHL, plus a local goalie to sit as a backup,” said Campbell.

“The Moose, meanwhile, had seven scratches, including four of their defencemen playing for the NHL's Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night.”

“The victory gave Manitoba its first win against a West Division team in nine games. It was also the team's biggest offensive output in more than a month, since scoring five against Rochester on Jan. 4.”

“It all came back to rallying around the five defencemen, two of whom (Rahimi and Kelly) have played more in the ECHL this year than for the Moose.”

"Big deal they were in the ECHL," said Moose goalie Drew MacIntyre, who had only 25 shots to deal with. "That's how I feel. They can play at this level and they showed it tonight."

“MacIntyre, who recorded his 17th win, said decisiveness was his team's key,” said Campbell.

"Now it's all about us doing it every night," he said. "They played with confidence and I think that's sometimes what we've been lacking. We've second-guessed ourselves and been scared to make mistakes. You can't play like that.

"They did everything hard tonight. They were poised tonight. It's what we've been telling everybody."

“Moran and Alex Bolduc added the second-period markers that clearly gave the Moose a shot of confidence,” said Campbell.

"Our D played great," Moran said. "They did what they had to do and they kept it simple and when you've got 12 forwards, you have to try to get back and help them out.”

"They made the simple plays, got it out and got it in."
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