Canucks Game Day: Well-rested St. Louis Blues to be stiff challenge for road-weary Vancouver
‘We could mail it in, but we’re not going to,’ says Ryan Kesler, here being checked by New Jersey Devils defenceman Anton Volchenkov during Thursday night’s 3-2 Canucks shootout in, of tonight’s game in St. Louis against the well-rested Blues. ‘We are going there to win a hockey game against a good team.’
Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images
ST. LOUIS — It’s said that rust never sleeps, and the Vancouver Canucks certainly hope that is true when it comes to the St. Louis Blues.
The Canucks stagger into St. Louis tonight (5 p.m. Pacific, on Sportsnet Pacific, Team 1040) to play their fifth game in a week. The Blues haven’t played in the past week so there’s no doubt who the tired team will be.
The Canucks will be hoping it might take the Blues some time to find their legs.
“There’s tons of excuses,” said Vancouver centre Ryan Kesler, who has been a workhorse on this trip and now leads the Canucks with five goals. “We could mail it in, but we’re not going to. We are going there to win a hockey game against a good team. They are a good team that is rested and waiting for us. But we are going to go at them right from the start.”
The Canucks will do that with a makeshift lineup. Vancouver lost two more forwards Thursday night, when Dale Weise and David Booth went down with first-period injuries. They are already without forwards Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen and Jordan Schroeder.
Vancouver recalled forwards Darren Archibald and Pascal Pelletier from their AHL farm team in Uitica late Thursday night. Both are expected to play tonight.
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Archibald has not played a NHL game, while Pelletier has 13 NHL games on his resume with Chicago and Boston.
While the Canucks have been slugging it out on what is their longest road trip of the season, the Blues have been resting up. They spent part of this past week on a team-bonding retreat in South Carolina and have not played since last Friday night in Winnipeg. They have played just seven games this season, the fewest in the NHL, while the Canucks will be playing their league-high 13th of the season.
The Blues enter tonight’s game with a record of 5-1-1, while Vancouver is 7-4-1 and 4-1-1 through the first six games of their seven-game trip.
“It’s going to be a real high tempo,” Blues centre Patrik Berglund told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “They have played four or five games more than us. They’re really into it, so we need to focus on being ready. I think we’ve been doing a good job.”
The Canucks are expected to start backup Eddie Lack tonight. Jaroslav Halak will get the start for the Blues.
• PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Henrik Sedin, Canucks: The Vancouver captain assisted on both Canuck goals in Thursday night’s 3-2 shootout win in New Jersey and is second in the NHL with 15 points in 12 games.
Alex Steen, Blues: Steen has feasted on the Canucks in recent years and leads the Blues with 11 points in the team’s first seven games this season. He plays on the Blues’ top line with David Backes and T.J. Oshie.
Canucks: Vancouver is without centre Jordan Schroeder (ankle) and wingers Alex Burrows (foot), Jannik Hansen (upper body), David Booth (lower body) and Dale Weise (lower body).
ICE CHIPS: St. Louis will be without centre Maxim Lapierre, who is serving a five-game suspension for his hit-from-behind on San Jose defenceman Dan Boyle … The Canucks will charter home immediately after the game. They begin a three-game homestand Monday night against the Washington Capitals.
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