Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider keeps Anaheim Ducks star Corey Perry at bay during an NHL game last season at Rogers Arena. While the Ducks will be resting some of their stars for tonight's game (hello, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne), Perry (above) won't be one of them — though it won't be Schneider he's bearing down on, as Roberto Luongo gets the start in net.
Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, PNG files
VANCOUVER — With nothing at the stake in the standings for the Vancouver Canucks, they have two ways to approach tonight's meeting with the Anaheim Ducks in their last home game of the regular season (7 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific, Team 1040).
The Canucks can tiptoe through the tulips in an attempt to avoid injury, or they can keep pedal to metal as they did Monday vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. Veteran defenceman Dan Hamhuis figures it should be the latter.
“We need to keep ramping it up for the playoffs,” he said. “That's what our focus is. If our systems are good and tight, then it will take the strain off individual play and that's what we have to continue to work on.”
Daniel Sedin wholeheartedly agreed.
“For us, it's more about how we play,” said Daniel. “I think we took a really good step in the right direction last game against Chicago (3-1 win) and we want to do the same things tonight. That's the most important thing. We want to win the game, but we want to make sure we play the right way.”
The Canucks will have some different faces in the lineup tonight as Derek Joslin steps in for Cam Barker on the third defensive pairing while Keith Ballard is expected to skate on left wing on the fourth line with Andrew Ebbett and Zack Kassian. On Wednesday, Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said Ballard, who has been nursing a sore back, wouldn't play against the Ducks. So it seems the plan has changed.
Ballard played three games at forward earlier in the season when the team was going through an injury crisis. Kevin Bieksa, who skated again this morning, announced he is “optimistic” he'll be ready for the start of the playoffs next week.
“Because of the health of our defence, if we have a defenceman who can play up front and be effective, it's something we might look at,” explained Vigneault, who may have 10 healthy blueliners by next week if Chris Tanev also returns.
Ballard is ready to give it another go up front. He says his back is fine.
“I've had no issues the last couple of days,” said Ballard, injured Saturday in a fight with Detroit's Justin Abdelkader. “As for playing forward, I think I did well the games I played there before and I'll try to do the same things. We've got two more games here that won't change our playoff position so we can use them to fine-tune things and get a little bit sharper, or they can be used to develop a couple of bad habits. You need to guard against that.”
The Canucks will be facing a Ducks team resting four prominent players: captain Ryan Getzlaf, right-winger Teemu Selanne, centre Saku Koivu and defenceman Bryan Allen. Winger Bobby Ryan (ill) will be missing as well.
“We want to rest some people,” explained Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. “I mean, we wanted to clinch the division a lot earlier so we could have rested guys earlier but we didn't. Now guys like Saku, Getzie, Teemu and Bryan Allen, who need a day off, are getting it today.”
The goaltending matchup will see Jonas Hiller (14-6-4) face Roberto Luongo (9-4-3).
ICE CHIPS: Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev (ankle) skated on his own with skills coach Glenn Carnegie prior to the team's morning skate ... The Canucks are 13-4-1 in their last 18 games while the Ducks are 7-8-2 after their amazing 22-3-4 start ... Referees for tonight's game are Dan O'Rourke and Don VanMassenhoven ... The Ducks are fifth on the power play and tied for 12th on the penalty kill. The Canucks are 23rd on the PP and seventh on the P.K.
INJURIES: The Canucks will be without D Kevin Bieksa (lower body), D Chris Tanev (ankle) and LW David Booth (ankle). The Ducks will be missing D Luca Sbisa (lower body) and LW Bobby Ryan (ill).
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