Canucks Return To The Wild

Thursday, 02.11.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
Vancouver Canucks

NOV.02.06

KESLER OK TO GO

Although Ryan Kesler's sore hip may prevent him from doing the "spin-o-rama" moves tonight. He skated this morning and will likely dress tonight against the Wild.

"He's alright, obviously he's not 100% but according to him and Berny [Mike Burnstein], he's ready to go so it's good news for us."

Kesler, who has no doubt been working hard in the first 13 games so far is looking for his first goal of the season.

"It's been really frustrating," said Kesler. "I've had numerous opportunities. It's going to come, hopefully sooner rather than later."

MOTIVATED WILD

Minnesota leads the Northwest division going into this game with 18 points, just ahead of the Canucks, who are currently sitting in second in the division with 15 points. Brendan Morrison expects to face a motivated Wild team tonight after a 4-1 loss in Colorado in their last game.

"It's a big game for both teams, divisional game and these guys are unbeaten at home so we've got our work cut out for us," said Morrison. "It'll be a good challenge but we're excited about it."

Although the Canucks are coming off a loss in their last game, they have won four of their last six games.

The Canucks are 5-3-1 on the road this season and are hoping to even the score against the Wild this time after overtime shootout loss to them earlier this season.

WARM RETURN

The Canucks visited Minnesota in early October, where Willie Mitchell got to visit his old team but former Wild teammate Marc Chouinard missed that trip due to a shoulder injury.

This time around, Mitchell will be in Vancouver, while Chouinard gets to return to St. Paul.

"It's just good memories here. I don't have anything bad to say about either the city, the fans, the people I've met here are great. The organization really treated me with respect and the coaches and players I played with so it's all good things and a little pinch to the heart obviously you know but all good and it's going to be a special night."

Chouinard played two seasons in Minnesota, where he set a career high 14 goals, 16 assists, and 30 points, before signing with Vancouver this year.

DOUBLE TROUBLE

Jacques Lemaire has a great respect for the Sedins, who have a combined 11 goals and 32 points all-time against Minnesota.

"They know where the guys are on the ice, where his brother is and they're very smart players. They hold on to the puck, they get chances, you know, every time they're on the ice, something happens. They have some magic that, you know they can move the puck to the right people so they can get scoring chances so this is a line that we're going to check."

While Minnesota will have to contend with the twins, the Canucks don't have to worry about Marion Gaborik and Wes Waltz, who are both out with injuries.

Brian Rolston will be the guy on the radar for the Canucks with nine points in his last seven games and four goals in his last four.

UNSUNG PRAISES

Defenceman Kevin Bieksa has been seeing lots of ice time on the blueline, especially with the absence of Mitchell and he hasn't been disappointing.

"I knew Kevin very well and it was just a matter of getting him to play with urgency all the time," said Vigneault. "He's done a very good job this year."

Bieksa's confidence is on the rise, averaging just over 20 minutes a game including 46:48 minutes of powerplay time.

"I feel pretty comfortable out there, and special teams is so important now with the crackdown on obstruction," Bieksa said. "Our power play has to keep improving and I want to be part of that."

The Canucks defence have definitely been effective this season. The team is tied for third best in the league with a 2.15 goals against average.