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Press Round-Up: MAR.13.08

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
Knee surgery to end Ohlund's season reports on the status of Mattias Ohlund:

The Vancouver Canucks will have to play out the final stretch of the regular season without one of their key defenceman.

Mattias Ohlund did not accompany the team on its trip to Phoenix and has flown back to Vancouver to undergo surgery Thursday to remove bone chips in his knee.

The bone chips caused swelling and Ohlund was playing through it and was treating it with anti-inflammatory drugs.

Ohlund also experienced bone chips in the 2002-03 season when he missed a total of 22 games. He was able to return to play 13 playoff games that year, recording three goals, four assists, and a total of twelve penalty minutes.

In 52 games this season with the Canucks, Ohlund has nine goals and 15 assists while picking up 79 minutes in penalties. The Canucks sit in eighth place in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Nashville Predators.
Ducks too big, too fast, too good
ANA 4 VAN 1: Sedin twins outplayed, Luongo shows poor judgment

Jason Botchford said the big, bag ducks were just too much for the Canucks:

The Canucks were manhandled by the Ducks who looked, in a 4-1 win, just like they did during last year's playoffs -- too big, too fast and too good.

Canucks fans have seen this movie before. There was Sami Pahlsson's line out-chancing, out-scoring and outplaying the Sedin twins. There was Ryan Getzlaf roaming freely in and out of the slot. There was Teemu Selanne, the aging Finnish Flash, looking uncatchable. And there was Roberto Luongo starting the mess off just the way he ended last season -- with an inexplicable breakdown of his normally sound judgment.

Luongo made possibly his biggest gaffe of his year, on his biggest gamble, in the first period when he charged out of his net 30 feet to challenge Todd Marchant, who, at the time, was only thinking about a breakaway.

In a scoreless game, Marchant beat Luongo to a Chris Kunitz clearing pass as he popped out of the penalty box. He then easily out-maneuvered the hard-charging goalie, scoring one of the easier goals of his career.

"I thought I had it," Luongo said. "The ice really slowed the puck down . . . Once I made my play and decided to go out there and play it, there was no turning back.

"I made a mistake. It's unfortunate. It wasn't great timing. Sometimes, you make mistakes, things happen. It was my fault, and I battled through it the rest of the way."

Just like the playoffs, the Sedin twins struggled to match wits and skill with their arch-nemesis, the Sami Pahlsson-Rob Niedermayer-Travis Moen trio. It was Moen and then Niedermayer who scored consecutive first-period goals in a 3:32 span that put the Ducks up 3-0. At that point, it was over.

"You're going to get behind in this league and you should be able sometimes to come back," Alain Vigneault lamented. "But to do that, your best players offensively need to be your best. And our guys weren't very good."

A case can be made that far too often lately, the Canucks' best players haven't been very good, at least they haven't been very productive. In the past 10 games, the Sedins, Markus Naslund and Taylor Pyatt have combined for one goal, an empty netter. It's a stunning statistic. Pyatt hasn't scored in 17, Naslund in 10 and Henrik has one empty netter in his past 14.

"I think we are pressing, that's what you do when you're frustrated out there trying to score," said Daniel who has gone 10 without a goal. "We're trying to do too much and that's what happens when you haven't scored. We have to keep getting pucks to the net, they have to bounce in sooner or later. We have to work hard, that's how we'll get out of this.

With the Sedins' struggling, a heavy dose of the Pahlsson line was about the last thing they needed. The line matchup looked especially lopsided on the Ducks' third goal, which Rob Niedermayer scored at the first period's 16:49 mark. The trio worked the puck, and the twins, all over the offensive zone until Niedermayer picked up his own deflected shot and put it in the net from 13 feet.

"A lot of times it's less about skill than going on the ice and competing in those tough areas," Vigneault said. "That line right now has out-played [the Sedins] one-on-one real badly in almost every game we've played them."
Fowl memory recall
Win by big, bad birds brings back Canucks' loss in last year's playoffs
Iain MacIntyre said Wednesday night’s game resembled the proceedings of last years Western Conference Semi-Final:

The big, bad Ducks overpowered the Canucks on Wednesday, winning handily 4-1 to halt Vancouver's three-game winning streak and stall its National Hockey League playoff drive.

It looked a lot like last year's playoff series, won 4-1 by the Ducks. Except the Canucks had a full lineup and their goalie, Roberto Luongo, was mediocre.

More troubling than Luongo's uncharacteristic performance -- he was hooked after 24 minutes in order to be fresher for tonight's game in Phoenix -- was Vancouver first-liners Daniel and Henrik Sedin getting shut down again at even strength by Anaheim's outstanding checking line.

The Sedins have combined for one goal in 10 games, an empty-netter by Henrik, and were outscored 2-0 by Duck checkers Samuel Pahlsson, Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer.

That line dominated the teams' playoff series, but the Sedins were diminished by the flu back then. Wednesday, there were no excuses. They were healthy and rested. Still, the Canucks' front-line players required power-plays to generate most of their chances, and those didn't go very well, either.

The Sedins, who skated with winger Taylor Pyatt, were on the ice for two of the first three goals against.

The Canucks' modest three-game winning streak was built on the play of Vancouver checkers Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. They were among Vancouver's best forwards here, too, but still a notch below Pahlsson and Co.
Luongo's rest before the rest: Goalie will likely play all of remaining games

Jason Botchford said even with the stretch drive producing a hectic schedule Roberto Luongo has no intention of taking a day off:

When Alain Vigneault pulled Roberto Luongo 4:03 into Wednesday night's second period, the Vancouver Canucks coach was throwing out a life preserver, saving his star goalie from the circus that was performing around him.

The Ducks had 10 scoring chances in the first period and came close to matching that during the four minutes Luongo played in the second.

The traffic of bodies and the subsequent in-crease pileups were reminiscent of what Luongo saw late last season, especially in the playoffs, especially against Anaheim. It was enough to raise questions about how much Luongo can take and how much can he play?

It should come as no surprise he said the answer is a lot. Luongo revealed the rest he got Wednesday after being pulled is the last rest he plans on getting for a while -- maybe the rest of the season.

Luongo said he is making the final decisions on how many games he'll play and vowed if the playoffs are in doubt he will play them all, health willing.

"We all know the importance of every game and I want to be a part of that," Luongo said. "I don't want to miss out on any opportunities to help my team and help my team get into the playoffs. Not one."

It's no easy task. It will mean nine more games in the next 18 days, beginning tonight in Phoenix which is the bookend to a back-to-back. There are two more back-to-back scenarios in March. For both of them, the Canucks will have to do what they did after Wednesday's 4-1 loss -- fly to a different city in-between games.

"If we're fighting for a playoff spot till the end, I don't see where I will take a rest," Luongo said. "I feel good right now, energized. Those are the two most important things. As long as those feelings are there, I don't see why I would take a game off until the end. There is no reason."

At the beginning of the year, Vigneault said he was handing over the keys to his crease to Luongo. He said he would allow his star netminder to make the decisions on when he will play, when he will rest. When Vigneault brought up the issue on this road trip, Luongo quickly cut him off.

"I went up to him quickly [on this road trip] and said 'You know we have four-in-six coming up' and he said 'Don't you dare think I'm taking a day off here,'" Vigneault said. "He wants to play. We'll have to monitor his energy level, but he looks real fine." Vigneault indicated he will look at Luongo's playing time from a game-by-game basis. But his goalie will have the final say and that suits Luongo, who had a couple of issues last season when he was asked not to skate.

"Last year was new for both of us -- he didn't know me, I didn't know him," Luongo said. "You kind of have to get to know each other. He knows now the type of athlete I am. I'm more comfortable in the aspect where I'm making those decisions. Not only in playing games, but also in morning skates."

Last year, Luongo's playing time was one of the biggest, most talked about issues surrounding the Canucks. Not so any more. There's few people in Vancouver who believe Luongo can wear out. He has a reputation as being indefatigable.

It's not just Vancouver, however, where the goalie is carrying a bigger workload without much concern. There seems to be fewer issues this season being voiced about goaltenders' playing time around the NHL. This season, nine -- maybe even 10 goalies -- could end the season with 70 games played. There were only two last year -- Luongo and New Jersey's Martin Brodeur.
Shannon's date with Stanley

Iain MacIntyre said Shannon finally gets his ring:

Even before Wednesday's game started, it was going to be Ryan Shannon's night. The Vancouver Canuck winger, who spent last season with the Anaheim Ducks, was to finally receive his Stanley Cup ring after the game. "They offered to send it to me, but I said 'please don't,' " Shannon said. "I wanted to get it in person. I've been looking forward to this a long time."
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