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Press Round-Up: NOV.23.07

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks

Naslund rediscovers his Swedish touch

Iain MacIntyre said that Markus Naslund and Coach Alain Vigneault had entirely different playing styles, but they find themselves quite similar when it comes to their perspective on hockey.

MacIntyre said, “Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault is effusive and animated and devoted to defending. He was tough when he played, had the nickname Bam Bam. Naslund is reserved and sombre, the former trigger man from a potent offensive line that fronted one of the National Hockey League's most swashbuckling teams.”

"I'll tell you a story," Vigneault said Thursday, enlivening one of the dullest off-days in the history of hockey, U.S. Thanksgiving. "The night Sami and Kevin went down, it was a pretty scary situation in the medical room. Blood everywhere. Markus was coming out of the room when Dave Nonis was going in. And Markus says to Dave: 'We're really going to have to tighten up the way we're playing.'

"Later, Dave and I are talking. And I say to him: 'You know, with the personnel we have left, we have to change a few things and tighten up.' Dave looked at me and said: 'Holy [crap], Markus just said the same thing.'

"We're probably a lot more alike than people think we are. The thing about Markus that people don't see is that he really cares a tremendous amount about this team."

“They are seeing it now because, in the absence of injured skill defencemen Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa, Naslund has elevated his game the last two weeks and is scoring like he hasn't since his Lester Pearson Award season in 2002-03,” said MacIntyre.

"In a way, I never doubted that I'd lost my scoring touch or something," Naslund said. "I was just used to playing a certain way and playing with certain players. Maybe I'm more dependent on other players. I can only control my work ethic. I feel I've done my best. I haven't scored lots, but I think the effort has been there all along."

MacIntyre said, “So, yes, Naslund is guilty of needing the twins the same way he needed Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison during the Marc Crawford era.”

"He was accustomed to scoring 40 goals there a bunch of years in a row," Morrison said. "And when you have a dropoff, you start doubting yourself a little bit. A lot of this is mental. But we've talked about it and the bottom line is winning. As you get older, you appreciate winning more and more. But you still want to prove to everybody and, more than that, prove to yourself that you've still got it. Obviously, he does. He's got it going right now. He's on fire."
Canucks tame Wild

Iain MacIntyre said that Derek Boogard’s threat didn’t intimidate the Naslund and Sedin line, but appeared to have made them even more dangerous as Naslund scored his first hat trick this season.

“The greater threat to Vancouver was always fatigue and exhaustion due to a mostly-sleepless night forced upon them by a schedule that had them play Tuesday in Edmonton. In this way, Boogaard and the over-the-top hype he stoked in Minnesota for Wednesday's game helped the Canucks, sharpening their focus and enlivening them better than any energy drink could,” said MacIntyre.

"Obviously they [Wild] played on their heels a little bit," Canuck coach Alain Vigneault said. "When you have a player who makes threatening remarks the way their player did, if anything happens on the ice to anyone, they're responsible. I'm sure it helped us. The buildup to this game was all about the remarks about revenge.

"You can't intimidate the twins and Markus Naslund. Obviously, they proved that tonight. Intellectually, they're pretty smart; they don't all watch that Pinky and. . . the Brain." Pinky and the Brain is a cartoon about two genetically-altered lab mice who seek world domination.

"I think this team has been great every time we've faced adversity," Naslund said. "In the past, that's when we've played our best hockey.

"This was a really big game. We had a big talk before the game about responding. Obviously, there was the challenge coming into this building, and playing last night and getting to our hotel at 4 a.m. There was a lot of hype and buildup. I think it helped us to get motivated and play strong."
This wasn’t Vigneault’s plan, but…

Jason Botchford said Vigneault’s decision to put Naslund and the Sedins back together was one of the best decisions he made as Naslund’s youth and ‘spark’ is beginning to rejuvenate.

“It has everything to do with Alain Vigneault's decision -- one born out of crisis on Nov. 3 -- to line Naslund with the Sedins, the Vancouver Canucks' most highly skilled forwards,” said Botchford.

“It instantly gave Naslund spark. It clearly gave him confidence. If he went to scoring areas, they would find him. It has left him excited, relaxed and smiling.”

“But if Vigneault had his way, it never would have happened.”

“In fact, it was about the last thing he wanted to do,” said Botchford.

"To be really honest, I didn't see us doing it. No, I didn't," Vigneault said. "I was looking for more balance in our scoring. I wanted two lines, maybe three that could chip in. That's what we had last year when we had success.

"But when we had all those injuries, I just decided, 'Look, we're going to load up on one line and have three others that are tough to play against.'"

Suddenly, Vigneault is re-thinking his philosophy. "I look at that game we played in Minnesota, those three players were under the microscope and under the gun, and they just stood up and were accounted for," he said.

"If they play like that, well, they're really good players and it's fun to watch that and be a part of that.

"So, right now, we're going to stick with it."

"It's really working with those two," Naslund said of the Sedins. "Once you start scoring it changes a lot. You become more relaxed and you start to look for the spots on the ice where you need to get to in order to score."
Bert to play at GM Place

The Province points out that Todd Bertuzzi will be playing against his old team. His time as a Vancouver Canuck was his prime and getting that groove again will be an uphill battle.

“Bertuzzi got back into the Ducks lineup on Wednesday in a 2-1 loss to Dallas after missing 14 games with a concussion courtesy of a hit by Minnesota's Derek Boogaard.,” said the Province.

“Before Wednesday's game against the Stars, Bertuzzi said he felt good and was ready to return to action.”

"I'm just glad it cleared up," he told the Orange County Register. "I've had some good skates.

"You just go out and do your best and have fun doing what you're doing. It's hockey, man. Things happen like that. You just have to go out and play hard. I have total confidence in where I'm at right now."

The Province said, “In the loss to Dallas, Bertuzzi played 13:12, had no points, two shots and was not on for any goals either for or against. He was spotted on a fourth line with Brad May and newly acquired Brian Sutherby.”

“In eight games this season, Bertuzzi -- who was signed by Ducks GM Brian Burke to a two-year, $8-million free agent deal in the summer -- has 1-1-2 and is a minus-2.”
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