Game Day: Canucks call on Ryan Miller to douse Flames

 

 
 
 
 
The Canucks will look to Ryan Miller (left), and not Eddie Lack, to get them back into their playoff series tonight against the Calgary Flames.
 

The Canucks will look to Ryan Miller (left), and not Eddie Lack, to get them back into their playoff series tonight against the Calgary Flames.

Photograph by: Ben Margot, AP

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VANCOUVER — With their season on the line tonight (7 p.m. PT, on CBC, TSN 1040), the Vancouver Canucks are turning to goalie Ryan Miller. It's his time.

"I am going to go with Miller," Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins announced at the morning skate. "He's been in big games before, but the biggest thing is how he played in Calgary. I thought he looked really sharp in the game in Calgary."

Miller played the final two periods in Game 4, which the Canucks lost 3-1 to the Flames. He didn't allow a goal on 15 shots after starter Eddie Lack was beaten three times on seven shots, two of the goals coming on Calgary power plays. The Canucks trail the best-of-seven series 3-1.

"I don't think it was an easy decision," continued Desjardins. "Eddie has played really great for us. He did a great job down the stretch, but I just think Miller looked good in Calgary. He was really clean the last two periods and, out of that, I think he deserves the chance. We were pressing, so we gave up some clear-cut chances and I thought he was really clean on quite a few of his saves. And he looked calm, too."

Miller doesn't speak on game days when he is starting so reporters weren't able to probe his psyche this morning. However, on Wednesday he did admit he wasn't 100 per cent recovered from the knee injury he suffered Feb. 22 against the New York Islanders.

"My goal was to be an option and be ready and I tried to work to that point," Miller said. "You have to go out and play your game and the forwards and defensive units have to play their game and you just go and compete. I think that's what it comes down to … the level of compete and the level of battle. You have to go out and establish some belief in here that when we're doing the right things, we can get some results."

Up front, checking centre Brad Richardson took the optional morning skate and will be a game-time decision. He has been nursing a wonky ankle since mid-January and didn't play in Game 4. He also did not practise with the team on Wednesday. He declined to say whether the ankle kept him out of Game 4, or whether it was some other issue.

"We're not going to talk about it," Richardson said. "We'll see at game time. I'm not really sure this morning but we'll figure it out tonight. It's been a long year but definitely at this time of year you want to be playing so, hopefully, I can get in there tonight. We definitely know where we're at and we want to have everyone that we can playing on all cylinders tonight."

One player who is definitely in is former Flame Sven Baertschi, who was dealt to the Canucks at the trading deadline for a second-round draft pick. He is expected to start on a line with Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata. He'll take Linden Vey's spot in the lineup. If Richardson goes, the best guess is that Brandon McMillan will come out, although McMillan was one of Vancouver's better forwards in Game 4.

It also appears there will be no changes to the Canucks’ blue-line as extra defenceman Ryan Stanton stayed on the ice late along with Vey.

Canucks captain Henrik Sedin seemed pretty loose when asked whether he planned to make an emotional pre-game speech to his teammates.

"You want me to cry?" he quipped. "We talked a lot on Wednesday about the past and where we've been before and being down 3-1 in a series and coming back. I believe it is there for us to win. We have to keep doing the same things and you have to trust there is going to be good things happening to you."

The Canucks have scored just eight goals in the four games and one of those was into an empty net. Henrik was asked about finishing against Flames netminder Jonas Hiller.

"Well, you just try to shoot the puck past Hiller over the goal line," he joked. "There are things we can change to create more chances and maybe make a little bit more open ice, but I still think we feel we've had enough chances to put enough pucks in the net to win games, but we haven't done that so far. That's on us and the only thing we can do about it is go out tonight and score a few."

Flames defenceman Kris Russell, who leads the series in scoring with four points, wouldn't bite when asked if it was important for his team to finish off the Canucks tonight with the Anaheim Ducks already through to the next round and awaiting the Calgary-Vancouver winner.

"We're not looking past this game tonight," said Russell. "We have a job to do and we expect their best game."

The Flames are expected to ice the same lineup that was so successful for them in Games 3 and 4.

ICE CHIPS: Calgary boasts the best power play in the playoffs at 4-for-11, or 36.4 per cent … The Canucks’ power play is ranked eight at 2-for-12, or 16.7 per cent … The teams are dead even in faceoffs during the series at 50 per cent … Referees tonight are Jean Hebert and Marc Joanette. Ian Walsh is the alternate.

INJURIES: The Canucks will be without RW Alex Burrows (ribs) and RW Zack Kassian (back). The Flames will again be without D Mark Giordano (biceps), D Ladislav Smid (neck), D Raphael Diaz (knee), LW Lance Bouma (hand) and LW Paul Byron (ankle).

epap@vancouversun.com

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The Canucks will look to Ryan Miller (left), and not Eddie Lack, to get them back into their playoff series tonight against the Calgary Flames.
 

The Canucks will look to Ryan Miller (left), and not Eddie Lack, to get them back into their playoff series tonight against the Calgary Flames.

Photograph by: Ben Margot, AP

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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