MANNY RETURNS...TO PRACTICE
There was a buzz at what was supposed to be a fairly quiet Canucks morning skate when Manny Malhotra, who was placed on injured reserve on Thursday, joined a group that was comprised only of tonight’s scratches (Booth, Barker, Ebbett and Alberts) plus both goaltenders, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider.
"He's still a part of our team and we want him to be around the players," said Canucks' head coach Vigneault. “We want him to continue to have that solid impact that he has on our group by the way he conducts himself."
While he won't be making any more in-game appearances with the Canucks this season, Vigneault suggested that Malhotra appearances at practice could be a regular occurrence moving forward.
"Anytime he wants to step on the ice and skate with our guys, he's more than welcome."
BE AWARE THE BLUE-LINE
The Ken Hitchcock-led Blues have a reputation for playing a stifling defensive style but so far this season it's been their offence that has led the way.
St. Louis has scored 47 goals this season, which is tied for second most in the league behind only Tampa Bay's 55 goals to start the day.
A big part of their offensive success has been thanks to the offence generated from their blue-line. St. Louis boasts two of the top-three point scoring defencemen in the league in Kevin Shattenkirk (1-13-14) and Alex Pietrangelo (3-9-12).
"They're a team that not only can hit you with the first attack but they've got a second attack in the back end there coming real quickly," said Vigneault. "They've got a lot of skill up front and on D, speed and size, and it's no coincidence that last year they finished with such a strong push and this year they were off to a great start and now they're back at it."
Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, who will get the start tonight and will be looking to extend his personal win streak to five games, certainly knows what the Blues bring to the table offensively.
"They've got contributions from lots of guys offensively so that's what makes them so dangerous," said Luongo. "You can't just look out for one or two guys, you have to be aware of pretty much everybody on the ice and make sure that we try to limit them to the outside as much as possible and when there's going to be some breakdowns that's going to be my job to make sure I compensate."
SPECIAL TEAMS MUST BE SPECIAL
Another reason the Blues have been red hot of late has been thanks to their special teams play, particularly on the man-advantage.
The Blues are by far the league-leaders when it comes to power play conversion success where they're clicking at an astounding 35.8 percent efficiency (19-for-53). They're even better on the road at 37.5 percent efficiency (9-for-24).
"They have a shooting mentality," said Canucks D-man Jason Garrison as he sized up the Blues man-advantage. "They shoot a lot of pucks and they crash the net. You mix that in with their skill and it's a good combination."
In preparation of facing the best power play in the league, the Canucks worked extensively on their special teams at practice yesterday and they hope that their hard work will pay off tonight.
"We haven't had a lot of practice time this year where we've been able to really focus on it so yesterday was one of those days where we had planned that we were going to look at both the power play and the penalty killing," said Vigneault. "St. Louis' power play is outstanding, real tough to defend, so we're going to have to be at our best tonight."
Canucks D-man Alexander Edler will appear in his 400th career NHL game tonight all with the Canucks. He's just the 13th defenceman – 35th skater overall - to make 400-or-more appearances with the Canucks all-time.
The Canucks will see an unfamiliar face in goal for the Blues in the form of rookie Jake Allen, who is making just his third career NHL start. Last season Brian Elliott, who will be on the bench tonight, started all four games in the season series against the Canucks.
"I haven't seen him much," said Canucks' captain Henrik Sedin of Allen. "I think he played against Calgary, right?"
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