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Canucks, Flames renew rivalry @NHLdotcom

CANUCKS (2-3-0) at FLAMES (4-2-1)

Season Series:
It's the first meeting this season between these two Northwest Division rivals. But much is already on the line. The Canucks trail Calgary by five points in the standings already and, despite having two games in hand, don't want to see that deficit balloon any further.

Big Story: The Canucks are just trying to survive an ugly spate of injuries to start their season. In the span of a couple of days, Vancouver lost top-line forward Daniel Sedin for at least a month and then saw top-four defenseman Sami Salo go down with a long-term injury of his own. Calgary has taken points in five of seven games, but is still looking to address some issues in its own zone.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Vancouver's sick bay is pretty crowded these days. Salo and Daniel Sedin are only the most recent patients, joining wingers Pavol Demitra and Jannik Hansen and defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who have been out since the season started. The Canucks have called up Michael Grabner to replace Sedin on the first line. "With two top-six forwards out we need someone to hopefully step into that role," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "Michael is an offensive player with great speed and pretty good touch around the net."

Flames: Calgary has lost two straight games, but Tuesday's 2-1 loss was much easier to stomach than Sunday's loss to Chicago in a game in which Calgary squandered a five-goal lead. "Our mind-sets were right coming into the game (Tuesday night)," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "We had a good first period, then we backed off in the second period." Calgary will be looking to put together a complete game this time around.     

Who's Hot -- Calgary's Rene Bourque has been on fire to start this season, leading the team in both goals (4) and assists (5). But he has had to be good because the top two offensive guns -- Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen -- have been slow out of the gate. For Vancouver, it has been the Henrik Sedin show so far, but it will be interesting to see how he plays without his brother on his line, a relationship that has existed since the two were playing junior hockey back in Sweden. Christian Ehrhoff has been a pleasant surprise so far and will be counted on more heavily with Salo out.

Injury Report: Calgary is much healthier than Vancouver at the moment. In fact, David Moss is their only concern. The young forward is questionable for Friday's game because of a lingering upper-body injury. As mentioned, both Salo and Daniel Sedin are out for at least the next three weeks. Demitra, recovering from shoulder surgery, is out until mid-November. Hansen's broken fingers are almost healed and he could be activated any day. Schneider is also close to being 100 percent, but his return won't come for several more games because he was placed on IR at the start of the season.

Stat Pack: Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester holds the current "ironman" streak in the NHL, playing in 349 straight games. He last missed a regular-season game in his sophomore season of 2003-04.

Puck Drop: Perhaps the most interesting battle in this game will be between the two goalies -- Vancouver's Roberto Luongo and Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff. Each is an elite goaltender and each could be involved in the Olympics when they come to Vancouver this February. But, right now, each is struggling to find its game. Kipper is playing to 3.31 goals-against average, but does have a .903 save percentage. Luongo is hovering at 3.33 in the GAA department and has an untidy .879 save percentage.

-- Shawn P. Roarke,

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