At least some Red Wings up for scoreboard watching
Canucks notebook: Goalie Jimmy Howard relaxes watching movies
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard took an off-ice break from the following the playoff chase Thursday night by watching movies and falling asleep early in his Vancouver hotel room. ‘So I had no idea what happened until this morning when the guys told me,’ he said Friday.
Photograph by: Christian Petersen, Getty Images
VANCOUVER — While some of his teammates were anxiously checking the out-of-town scoreboard Thursday night, Detroit Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard blissfully fell asleep unaware that Columbus had lost its game in regulation to the L.A. Kings.
The result left the Wings just two points behind the Blue Jackets, who held the eighth and final playoff in the NHL's Western Conference. How's that for being a cool customer? Of course, Howard is a goalie.
“It was the first time in a long time I haven't paid attention to everything,” he said after the Wings practised Friday at Rogers Arena, site of Saturday's date with the Canucks (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1040). “I was just sitting in my room watching movies and fell asleep early. So I had no idea what happened until this morning when the guys told me.”
Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who is not a goalie, couldn't take his eyes off the scoreboard and chuckled when told Howard preferred sleep to scoreboard watching.
“Maybe he was a little bit tired, I don't know,” quipped Zetterberg. “I think it was tough for me to go to bed without seeing the scores. We will watch games tonight and we will watch the scores tomorrow. That's the way it's going to be all the way in.
“It's always interesting to see those battles for the 8-9-10 spots but this is the first time I've been a part of it. So it's a little bit different.”
SICK BAY WATCH: Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault monitored the Wings' practice along with assistants Rick Bowness and Darryl Williams but declined an invitation to discuss his lineup for Saturday's game, or provide any injury updates on Kevin Bieksa (lower body), Chris Tanev (ankle) and Chris Higgins (knee). However, GM Mike Gillis later told the Canucks' flagship radio station Team 1040 that Higgins and Bieksa aren't far off.
“Chris Higgins has been skating so we expect to get him back pretty soon, we hope,” Gillis said. “Kevin is day-to-day so hopefully we'll get him back this weekend, or after the weekend. Chris Tanev has had a walking boot on to stabilize the ankle sprain that he has and that should be coming off in the next few days, I believe.”
Bieksa's absence has been particularly noticeable. He's missed nine games and the Canucks have won just once without him (1-5-3). The lone victory was in a shootout. With Bieska in the lineup, Vancouver is 23-8-4.
The Canucks will clinch a playoff spot with a victory over the Wings, or an overtime or shootout loss.
FARM REPORT: Gillis said management has yet to make a decision where its newly purchased American Hockey League franchise — formerly the Peoria Rivermen — will be located.
“We're hopeful to have it in the west and close to our territory in order to be able to use the resources we have and operate it in the manner that is consistent with the Canuck organization,” he said. “We haven't made a decision yet and probably won't for a few weeks.”
Many believe the Canucks will ultimately wind up in Abbotsford with the Calgary Flames moving their Heat franchise elsewhere, possibly to Utica, N.Y.
BERT HURT: Ex-Canuck Todd Bertuzzi has appeared in just seven games for the Wings this season due to a back issue that migrated to nerve pain in his right leg. He is travelling with the team and skating but isn't certain whether he'll recover sufficiently to resume playing. His last appearance was Feb. 7.
“It's better than what it was but it's about 70 per cent, something like that,” said Bertuzzi, now 38. “So we'll see. I am still hoping to play. I have to make sure I'm more than ready to go. I think the frustrating part is I felt so good at training camp. I was healthy and in great shape but stuff happens.”
Bertuzzi has another year remaining on his contract at $2.075 million.
Big Bert's seven games played is three more than Mikael Samuelsson, also an ex-Canuck. Samuelsson has had three separate injuries this season: groin, finger and chest. He also has a year remaining at $3 million. The two vets have combined for two goals and two assists in their 11 man-games played.
ROAD-ICE ADVANTAGE? The Red Wings last played Wednesday in Calgary and flew to Vancouver post-game, giving them three nights in the Pacific time zone to prepare for Saturday's date with the Canucks. The Canucks, who had been planning to fly back from Dallas on Friday, changed plans and took a four-hour post-game flight home. They arrived in the middle of the night on their body clocks. Advantage: Red Wings.
“I think the biggest thing for us is to take advantage of that,” nodded Detroit forward Cory Emmerton. “We're rested and we haven't had much of that this year. I think whenever you get a couple of extra days to adjust, especially with the time change, it's important. You don't want to let that go to waste.”
QUOTABLE: “I'm not spending any time worrying about Vancouver, just like they're not going to spend much time worrying about us. We're all on our own programs trying to get what we need done.” — Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.
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