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Press Round-Up: NOV.19.07

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks

NHL suspends Ohlund four games for slash

Gary Kingston reports Mattias Ohlund’s suspension from a slash to Mikko Koivu’s leg last friday, which spoiled his clean record in ten NHL seasons.

Kingston said, “In a rare display of hot-button anger from the normally even-tempered Swede, Ohlund responded to a Koivu elbow to the face late in Friday's 6-2 win over Minnesota at GM Place with a swinging chop of his stick. Koivu reportedly suffered a crack fibula.”

"It doesn't matter if I agree or not (with four games)," said Ohlund, who was replaced in the Canuck lineup Sunday by Lukas Krajicek, out the previous eight games with a broken bone in his ankle. "I got four games and, obviously, we're going to have to the best with the situation.

"Elbow to the face I don't think was a very good play from his part. But obviously, looking back, I wish I would have done something differently than what I did, but things happen in the heat of the moment."

“Ohlund, who will forfeit $74,866 in salary, will miss the Canucks' three-game road trip this week to Edmonton, Minnesota and St. Louis and return for next Sunday's home game against Chicago,” said Kingston.

"Very few general managers are going to agree with any suspension," said Nonis. "I understand how difficult that job is. We're just going to move forward and look for Matty to get back in the lineup next weekend."
Practicing shootouts sounds good, but…

Ben Kuzma said that Coach Alain Vigneault took his time answering the question of why the team doesn’t include shootouts in the normal practice routine.

"I know our guys practice it a lot at the end [of practice] and it's exciting for the fans, but I'm not thrilled about ending it that way," said Vigneault.

“It's the kind of reaction you'd expect from an old-school coach immersed in a new-age game. And really, how do you coach shootouts when you're more concerned about breakouts and forechecks?,” questions Kuzma.

“However, the point of practising the shootout is the vital point for the taking in the skills competition. And with conference standings bunched up like the daily commute on the No. 1 Highway, every point is crucial.”

Kuzma said, “Last season, the Canucks were 5-4 in shootouts and those five extra points allowed them to hold off Minnesota and win the Northwest Division by one point.”

"Yes and no," Morrison said. "Guys can practice it on their own after practice and get a goalie to stay out -- and they're more than willing to work with guys.

"As players, we should take a little more initiative. We don't need the coaches to babysit us all the time and it's something we should look after ourselves."
Gritty Kesler relishing shutdown role

Jason Botchford said that Ryan Kesler was on the search for his identity as he was matched up several different times trying to find where his talents will most benefit the team.

“He's been the centre on the second line, playing alongside Markus Naslund, yearning to prove he can be a playmaker.,” said Botchford.

“He's been the winger working the back door with the Sedins on the No. 1 power play, trying to show he can score goals.” .

“But it's his latest role as shut-down centre which is opening eyes the widest, leaving many people believing that, for the first time this year, Kesler has found a home.”

Botchford said, “In the Canucks' past five games, Kesler has been given the job of shutting down the opponents' best players.”

“He's been specifically matched against Marian Gaborik, Ales Hemsky, Jarome Iginla and Joe Sakic twice. In those five games, those four offensive stars have combined for just three assists (one by Iginla and two from Sakic).”

"Any time you're shutting down players like Sakic or Gaborik you're doing something right, and he's been doing a really good job for us," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said. "That's as important as getting goals. It really is the role he's best suited for. That's his role.

"If you look at his overall potential and skill level, he's a great skater and he gets to areas in front of the net. But he's not a Henrik or a player like that. He's a meat-and-grind guy, not a splash-and-dash guy."

"I really like this role, I like shutting down other teams top lines and providing offence when I can," Kesler said. "I think I still have to produce offensively. When you're going up against the top lines it becomes a game within a game. If they're minus-1 after a game and we're in the plus, most of the time we're going to win that game."
Wild rematch could get ugly

Jason Botchford said that the 6-2 win against Minnesota Wild was shadowed by the drama building up on the ice.

“A game that should have been a celebration of red lights and a rare moment of goal-scoring glory for Vancouver's slumping offence degenerated into a series of cheap shots, post-game smack talk and at least one lingering injury,” said Botchford.

“Instead of admiring the Canucks' glossy, pin up-worthy 6-2 victory Friday night, most people were talking about the mayhem around the game which could lead to suspensions, fines and potentially more nasty business on what some are calling Retribution Wednesday, the next time the Canucks play the Wild.”

"Their so-called agitators were taking liberties," Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard said. "As soon as I stepped on the ice, they just sort of spread out and scattered to their holes almost. They don't want to come near me or talk to me.

"But they think they can slash and stick and punch our skill guys. I'm not going to stand for it."

Botchford said, “Boogaard then made some veiled comments about running Markus Naslund and the Sedins on Wednesday.”

"Maybe I can go after, or check Naslund and those Pinky and the Brain twins," he said.
Path to victory is clear

Elliot Pap said the Canucks are playing well against divisional teams and should ask to play more rather than less.

“Coach Alain Vigneault's skaters made it eight victories in nine tries against Northwest foes Sunday, dousing the Calgary Flames 4-1 before the 185th consecutive sellout at GM Places,” said Pap.

“The Canucks have yet to lose in regulation in the division and the only blemish on their smiling faces is a shootout loss to Edmonton. Officially, they are 8-0-1 in the Northwest.”

"You're going to jinx us saying that," protested Canuck defenseman Willie Mitchell, who netted the winning goal Sunday and was a standout on the penalty kill. "It's got to end sooner or later but, hopefully, it won't. We've played well against those teams and you need to if you want to get to the post-season."

"I liked the penalty killing part better than the scoring part," Mitchell replied when asked for his moment on the night. "For me, that's a lot of satisfaction and that's what I like to do. To be out there against great players and to shut them down is very rewarding."

“Luongo, who finished with 29 saves, plans to savour Mitchell's scoring outburst,” said Pap.

"We're not going to see that every night," Luongo predicted. "You appreciate what Willie does in our zone and when he gets a bonus like that, it's nice to see."

Pap said, “The Canucks' performance Sunday was made even more remarkable by the fact top defenseman Mattias Ohlund was beginning his four-game sentence for two-handing Minnesota centre Mikko Koivu.”
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