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Canucks vs Anahiem Thursday at 7:00PM - Tickets available

Looking Ahead

Friday, 10.11.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
Vancouver Canucks
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Looking Ahead

NOV.10.06

NO EXCUSES

Practice at GM Place this morning was quieter than usual.

After a hard, 6-0 loss last night against the Ducks - who set an NHL record with a16-game unbeaten streak in regulation time to start the year - the Canucks were subdued.

Roberto Luongo let in three goals on nine shots before Alain Vigneault replaced him with Dany Sabourin 5:29 into the second.

"I don't think that every game's going to go the way we want it to and definitely last night was unacceptable by any stand point," said Luongo.

Veteran defenceman Mattias Ohlund was a team-low minus-four on the night. Brendan Morrison was a minus-three and Markus Naslund, Daniel Sedin, and Matt Cooke were all a minus-two.

"Veteran guys, myself included to do more than we did and we didn't so obviously we're very disappointed with that," Ohlund said.

The usually jovial Vigneault was much more serious in his post-practice presser.

"I think as a group we were embarrassed last night and I'm expecting our guys to come out a lot better and a lot stronger right from the start [on Saturday]."

The team consensus after the morning skate was that effort was missing against the Ducks. The Canucks need to get back to the way they were playing at the start of the season if they're going to best the stingy Flames tomrrow. Vigneault knows his team, and he knows exactly what he wants.

"I think we have to play with the same smarts and the same intensity that we had been prior to last night."

"We were seen as a team that was working hard and smart," he said. "We weren't giving up and we're able to come back from deficits."

NORTHWEST BATTLE

The Canucks are currently 1-4-1 against Northwest Division foes. So far the team has only been able to beat the Oilers, and earned one point against the Wild. This will be the Canucks' first of eight meetings with the Flames this year.

"I look forward to Calgary and I think it's the perfect team for us to play right now," said Morrison.

The Flames have won their last two, but face a tough Anaheim team tonight at the Saddledome before flying to Vancouver tomorrow. The Canucks are motivated to pull out a win in front of the home crowd and already looking past last night's breakdown.

"There's nothing we can do about it now," said Luongo. "Twenty four hours passed and we can only look forward to tomorrow because we can't have that one in the back of our minds and let it affect tomorrow's game."

In a tough Northwest, where eight points separate first and last, everyone knows what they need to do to get the two points.

"Well I think we have to be desperate," says Naslund. "We're right there in the playoff race but we know that [divisional] games, especially at home we have to win. We know what to expect from Calgary, they always work hard even if they struggle. They're a hard working team and we're going to match their intensity and cut out our mistakes."

"Those [divisional] are big games too, points are extremely important no matter who you're playing but I think they're magnified a bit more against divisional teams," said Morrison.

YOUNG GUNS

The Canucks have felt the injury bug early this season, but the blueline's still performing. Vigneault had no worries about his green blueline last night.

"I was really pleased with all three of the kids played last night," he said.

"It was 2-0 - not much going on. We needed a little spark and McIver did what he had to do. The other two kids, Edler didn't make a mistake all night, Coulombe with his size, sometimes he'll get out muscled, but with the puck, he knows what to do with it."

SAME OLD STORY

The Canuck power play has been a sore spot and that hasn't changed.

"Our goal is to be in the top third," said Vigneault. "Obviously we're in the bottom third right now. I'd like us to get to the middle of the pack and from there keep taking strides."

The Canucks have been able to convert on 11 of the 97 power play opportunities. They're 26th in the league, just behind Calgary, whose power play percentage is 12.2 per cent.

"We haven't been able to get our power plays to work and that's such a crucial part now," said Naslund.

"If you have a good power play, other teams know that too and they'd probably play little different. It is very important for us to have any success that our power play be at least in the top third of the league."

It's definitely not for a lack of effort. The Canucks have 537 shots in 17 games, averaging 31.6 shots per game and rank fourth in the league in shots.

"We know the power play's struggling right now and guys are maybe trying a bit too hard, maybe trying to do a little extra as opposed to keeping it simple and going back to basics," said defenseman Kevin Bieksa.