Andrew Ebbett picks fine time to exhibit his offensive flair in Blue-Grey scrimmage
It was supposed to be a 30-minute game, but apparently coach Alain Vigneault wanted to see a goal, too.
So after two scoreless 10-minute periods Wednesday night, Vigneault sent word down from the press box at Rogers Arena that the third period would be 15 minutes. It worked as a crowd estimated at about 8,000 finally got to see some offence.
Henrik Sedin and Alex Edler scored to lead Team Blue to a 2-1 decision over Team Grey in the first of two Vancouver Canuck scrimmages this week.
But the biggest goal may have been the one scored by the losing Team Grey squad. Andrew Ebbett got it late in the third, to briefly tie things 1-1, when he converted a Mason Raymond pass and beat goaltender Roberto Luongo from the edge of the crease.
Ebbett, fighting for at least a temporary job at centre with rookie Jordan Schroeder, certainly didn’t hurt his cause Wednesday when he played on a line with Raymond and Zack Kassian.
He also scored in the post-game shootout competition, which helped ease the shame of taking two minor penalties.
“That’s about the same number of penalties I have taken all year down in Chicago so far, so it’s a little different for me to be in the box,” Ebbett said.
“A couple penalties, a goal and a shootout goal. My name’s on the scoresheet, so sometimes that is a good thing.”
The Ebbett-Schroeder battle is the most intriguing at a training camp where there really aren’t many jobs up for grabs. But injuries to Ryan Kesler and David Booth have created a couple of openings.
Ebbett had an edge Wednesday playing with Kassian, a regular AHL linemate of his in Chicago this season, and Raymond. Schroeder skated with fellow Wolves Bill Sweatt and Andrew Gordon and was often on the ice against the Sedins and Alex Burrows.
“You just try to keep it simple, especially when you are going out against the Sedins, guys that make plays,” Schroeder said. “You definitely want to try and keep the puck out of their hands.”
Schroeder and Ebbett will swap spots Thursday night when the Canucks play the second of their two scrimmages. This one is also free to the public.
“I thought both Ebbett and Jordan played well tonight,” Vigneault said. “They had their moments on the ice. Obviously, Ebbie scored that tying goal for that short moment. They are battling it out right now, there is opportunity. (Thursday) we are going to flip-flop both Andrew and Jordan and give Jordan a chance to play with Mason and Zack.”
Edler scored the game winner with less than a minute left in the third period when he wired a shot from inside the right point past the glove of Cory Schneider.
The teams went to a shootout where Edler, Daniel Sedin and Chris Higgins beat Schneider. Luongo surrendered shootout goals to Kassian and Ebbett.
For Vigneault, the game was as much about getting his team in game mode as it was evaluating talent. Associate coach Rick Bowness ran the bench for Team Blue, while assistant coach Newell Brown coached Team Grey. Vigneault watched from above with the Canuck management team.
“We got accomplished what we wanted today,” he said. “Combined with our morning skate, where we worked on our power play, tonight our guys got 35 minutes, a little bit of work on the shootout, pre-game preparation.
“During a normal training camp a lot of times people complain about exhibition games, but that is what prepares players to get ready for the start of the season. So by doing it this way tonight and having another one (Thursday night) we are going to give ourselves the best chance we can to be ready for Saturday night.”
The Canucks open the season with home games Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks and Sunday versus the Edmonton Oilers.
“This is all we are going to get before the season starts,” said Luongo, who received a warm ovation from fans and the familiar chant of “Louuuuu” every time he made a save. “It was an important night for all of us, I think.
“In situations like this you want to make sure everyone brings that intensity level because this is all we are going to have. Obviously, it wasn’t as physical as a normal game, but that is to be expected. Everything else was pretty much high-tempo.”
ICE CHIPS: Rookie defenceman Kevin Connauton played on the left wing Wednesday. He’ll move back on defence Thursday as newly signed defenceman Jim Vandermeer moves up to play on the wing. Vigneault said Vandermeer played 15 of his 25 games on the wing last season with the San Jose Sharks.
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