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Team Mentality

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks



No one's forgotten. The bitter taste still lingers in their mouths. The last time the Anaheim Ducks visited GM Place, the Canucks were embarrassed 6-0.

The Canucks hope to see a different result this time around. Coming off a win in their last game against Columbus, their energy is high and hope to continue their momentum into tonight's game.

"We're excited about it, no doubt about it," said Markus Naslund. "We want to show that we can play with a team like that. I think that's it's going to help us to show ourselves that if we put all of the things together here and play a hard game that we can beat them."

Roberto Luongo started the game in their first meeting but was replaced by Dany Sabourin after letting in three goals on nine shots. Mistakes and a lack of intensity cost them the game last time but after a good effort on Tuesday night, they know what they have to do.

"We all saw what they did to us last time we've got to come out ready to play," said Luongo, coming off his second shut out of the year. "First 20 minutes for us will be a good start for us to get a flow going. Just play within the system like we did [against Columbus]."

"I know we have to play a great game if we want to beat these guys because they only have two regulation losses and they're on a roll. When things are clicking for them, the only way tot stop them is to play a great game and mistake free."

Anaheim has won three straight and four of their last five. Vancouver is their final stop of their three game Canadian road trip. The Ducks won their previous two meetings in Calgary and Edmonton.

"Maybe we had the worst effort of the year and obviously the score ended up being an embarrassing one so we have to play them tight," said Naslund. "They're a strong team that plays a great team game similar to the way we did [against Columbus]."

With only two regulation losses this season, the Ducks will definitely be a challenging test for the Canucks tonight.


Vancouver fans are still waiting for the goals to come and the Canucks believe it's more than just shooting, it's about the whole package.

"I think the key is playing as a team, it's not just the goalie, it's not just the defence, it's everyone," says Willie Mitchell.

As a team, they've only scored 56 goals, 21 of those coming from one line. Offence is clearly struggling but the Canucks are aware of that, the media asks them enough about it, but they all believe that it's just a matter of time.

With the chances they're getting, it's just being patient and their luck will hopefully change in their favour.

"We're going through a bit of a tough stretch right now, we're grinding away, we're battling, trying to hold the fort until our fortune turns over a little bit," said Trevor Linden.

"I think all teams go through this during a phase of a season, usually the phase is a little bit shorter than ours but you get out of it," says Alain Vigneault.

"I'm telling myself I'm confident that when we come out of it, we're going to be stronger and we're going to get on a tear."

With the sixth ranked penalty kill, third in shots against, and third in the Northwest Division, there are only a few numbers that raise major concerns - all of which lead back to one thing: scoring.

They've scored 56 goals in their first 25 games, which is the least in team history, their powerplay percentage is ranked 27th in the league, they're averaging 2.20 goals per game, 28th in the league, and have scored two or fewer goals in nine of their last 11.

"I think it's the total game that we need. We're trying to score every night but we haven't had much success but I think if we can get the same effort from Louie back there and great penalty killing and hopefully get a couple, then I think we have a good chance."


Marc Chouinard, who was a healthy scratch last game, will replace Josh Green in the lineup tonight after Green injured his toe in practice yesterday.

"Green blocked a shot yesterday during practice and we think he might have a broken toe," said Vigneault. "He's gone to get x rays so he's not going to be in tonight."

Chouinard has played 17 games so far this season registering one assist in a losing effort against Detroit earlier this month.


For now, while the Canucks are having offensive troubles, their defensive play is doing well. Some are even saying that the high defensive style that Canucks are playing now is reminiscent of Jacques Lemaire's Minnesota Wild.

"It might be a fair comparison right now because the goals aren't coming," said Mitchell. "I've been in that situation before but I think we've got a lot more offence and so be it, it hasn't showed yet but I really do believe that we'll score more than one or two a game."

Former Wild Mitchell recalls the days in Minnesota and it looks as though the lessons have transferred here to Vancouver but he doesn't mind.

"The way Jacques coached his team. He sticks to the basics, he takes care of the middle of the ice, and sometimes guys can't do as many things offensively just because of how he coaches but it is really successful. There's nothing wrong with taking a page out of that book, playing tight defensively, especially right now when we're not scoring goals. Once the goals start coming, it takes a little bit of the pressure off the defence and goaltending."

Michell has faith in the team and only hopes that the strong defence will start to spark a struggling offence, which will start to come around soon. But until then, they just have to keep doing what they're doing well.

"I still believe that we're a good two-way team. The goals haven't been happening the we liked to but right now it's going to have to be our identity until we get the goals. We're going to have to play tight defensively and do the little things that a lot of people don't recognize to be successful."

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