MAKING IT COUNT
Lukas Krajicek returned to the ice for his first full practice with the team on Monday morning. The Canucks re-assigned Alex Edler back to the Manitoba Moose later in the afternoon.
Krajicek missed two games with a mild concussion he suffered in Edmonton on a hit from Zach Stortini. He's been practicing on the ice all week and feels good enough to play on Wednesday in Minnesota.
Fellow Czech, Jan Bulis, sidelined with a bruised shoulder didn't skate with the team yesterday but hit the ice today for his first full practice.
He and Krajicek have been doing off ice training but Bulis will likely not dress against the Wild.
"It's coming along pretty good," he said. "Still have to take a full practice with some battles along the boards and somewhere down low. I'm shooting for Friday hopefully."
"It's been improving day-to-day. The pain is going down, it's just a matter of getting it strong again so it's stable. I think it's going to take a couple more days that's why I don't think I'm going to play tomorrow."
This means that call-ups Brad Moran and Brandon Reid get to continue their stint with the Canucks and hope to bring the offensive contribution they've been showing in Manitoba.
Moran is second in team scoring on the Moose with 52 (16-36-52) points in 45 games, while Reid is top 10 on the team with 26 points (12-14-26).
"They're going to play on Wednesday," said head coach Alain Vigneault. "They played well last game with Markus [Naslund] and we'll see what they can do in a second game, a game on the road."
"I think they both did well in one game but that's just one game so we'll see what they can do in Minnesota."
Both will try to continue to impress against a tough Wild team in an important game for first place in the division. DAVE OF ALL TRADES
Dave Nonis isn't saying he's not eliminating the idea of trading draft picks or trades at all, he just wants to make sure it's the right one.
"The notion that we don't trade a draft pick is incorrect," said Nonis. "If we get the right player, would we trade a pick? Yes. Would we trade two picks? Yes. Would I trade every pick we have in this draft? If we get a good young player."
It's not like buying a pair of shoes and changing your mind - you can't return it once the deal's been made. And Nonis is being very careful about making the best deal possible.
"If we get good young player, we'd trade a lot of picks. That's a hockey deal, that's the deal I'd prefer to make. I think as we get closer to the deadline, all of us lose focus in that regard and we all look for the rental deals instead of trying to make a hockey deal. If there's a hockey deal out there that makes sense for both teams and we get a player that helps us long term and we give up some youth to do it or picks to do it, I'd be all for that."
Well that makes sense.
Nonis isn't pressured even though other teams are changing their lineups already. Calgary recently acquired Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau and Dallas added Ladislav Nagy to their roster.
"I think all the players on our team know we're hardly out there shopping for players around. We have a team that's preformed pretty well. I don't think we're in that spot where we'd be moving guys for change sake, that's not where we are but if there was a deal that required us to move a player and it made our team better now and in the future then that's the nature of the business."
And with Ryan Kesler
out indefinitely, some are left to wonder, who's going to fill in for the missing centreman?
"We're going to try to [look for a centre] but then again we've got enough centres here and if we can get the odd performance from [players like] Brad Moran. If we have to make due, we have to make due. Making a bad deal just to say we added a centre doesn't help us."
Although the trade deadline is approaching and moves are being made by other teams, it's not really something Vigneault wants to worry about.
"I'm not worried about what other teams are getting and what maybe we need to have." said Vigneault. "I'm really focused on what our players are and playing the best that they can. We're tied for first place right now, we're in there so we're going to get ready for Minnesota and we're going to have a good game." XCELLING IN MINNI
With Minnesota leading the season series 3-1-1 and 3-0 at home, the Canucks have a big task in front of them Wednesday night.
The Wild are 20-5-3 at home and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games overall. The Canucks are just above .500 on the road but are yet to pick up two points from the Wild on their turf.
The good news is this is the last time the Canucks will have to visit the Xcel Energy Centre this year (at least in the regular season). But the Canucks are looking for redemption after falling 5-2 at GM Place in their last meeting.
"I think coming into our building and beating us definitely gave them a little bit of confidence," said Brendan Morrison. "Especially on the road when they didn't have a very good road record up until that point. Also getting Gaborik back and him healthy and Demitra - key offensive guys so all those things add up."
"They've had some success at home but as far as we go, we've beaten some pretty good teams in their barn so we've just got to do what we do night in and night out to get the two points," said Roberto Luongo
. "If we do that, I'm sure things will come out for us."
The Canucks have taken games in Nashville, whose home record is 20-4-3, and won two games in Detroit, Edmonton, and Calgary - all who have respectable home records and loud buildings.
Vancouver and Minnesota are currently in a three-way tie with Calgary in the Northwest, each with 66 points. The Flames play tonight, which could alter the standings but nevertheless, with these teams so tight, the two points from Wednesday's game will prove to be considerable.
"They're a significant rivalry, there's no question," said Morrison. "Are games as fiery as the games against Calgary or Edmonton? I don't know if they're quite at that level but they're not far off. It's our job to go into it preparing like it is one of those games."
There's no wondering who the Canucks will be watching on the Wild. Since Marian Gaborik's return from his injury, he's already registered 18 points in 16 games.
In 24 career games against Vancouver, he has put up 11 goals and 19 points, including two goals in two games this season.
"Not only does he have a lot of speed but his hands and the way that he can see the play ahead of time and get to that area makes it really challenging on our D," said Vigneault.
"He's been a really dynamic player for them. They got back on a roll as soon as he came back so we've got our work cut out for us."