In Our House

Wednesday, 27.12.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
Vancouver Canucks
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In Our House

DEC.27.06


HUNGRY TO WIN

The Canucks ended the Flames 10-game home winning streak last night with a 3-1 in Calgary. The Canucks will host the Flames tonight to finish off their home-and-home series.

With a 0.925 save percentage - good enough for third in the league, Miikka Kiprusoff wants to bounce back from last night's game. Calgary captain, Jarome Iginla is fired up about tonight after his team was stopped by Roberto Luongo 26 times and a couple of posts last night.

The Canucks are aware of it and they're not going to sit back and let it happen.

"I'm sure they're not happy with the loss last night so it's going to be up to us to prepare and match their start," said Luongo. "Especially now that we're at home, it's important for us to get off to the same start we did last night."

"They're going to be really hungry," said Alain Vigneault. "We broke their string at home and they're going to want to bounce back."

In the two previous home-and-home series this season, the Canucks have failed to pull out wins in both games. Both losses came in the second game on the road. This is the first time the second game is at home.

"I think that's the thing with home-and-home," said Kevin Bieksa. "It's usually after the first game the team that loses comes back to play a strong game in the second, so again, our start will be crucial for us."

The final home-and-home series will be against the Avalanche in March.


THE NORTHWEST SHUFFLE

A win tonight could mean first place in the division if Minnesota and Colorado fail to win in their games tonight.

The Northwest division is definitely the most exciting one at the moment and the one with the most action so far. It seems that every night there are changes to the standings in the Northwest, while other divisions have little to no movement at all.

"I think it's more that it's just a divisional match up that's important for us that's going to reflect on the standings at the end of the year," said Luongo. "We won last night but to get the job done, we've got to win tonight to make last night's win count."

Only one point separates the Northwest teams, which makes all divisional games even more pivotal than they are. Considering that the Canucks play the division rivals eight times each, that could be 64 points in divisional match ups alone.

There are 17 divisional games remaining, including tonight's game against the Flames, which could mean a possible 34 points that are not going towards the rivals and the difference between third place in the conference or eighth.

"They're definitely important for us," says Bieksa. "We've got to get up in the standings now, especially in our division. Divisional games all coming up and they're all going to be big games, playoff type atmosphere so we've got to get as many of those wins as we can."

The Southeast and the Northeast divisions are the next tightest with a difference of 17 and 18 points respectively but Atlanta and Buffalo still sit atop their divisions comfortably.


BURROWING AWAY

Tonight's lineup might a look a little different tonight with a possibility of seeing seven defenceman and 11 forwards.

Alex Burrows is questionable for tonight.

"He got hit yesterday on his hip so he tried it out this morning," said Vigneault. "It looks okay but we're not sure yet."

Vigneault says it will be a game time decision whether Burrows will be able to play tonight.

Burrows is still waiting for his first goal of the season but has six assists and several disallowed goals.


HOME SWEET HOME

In addition to being the second of a home-and-home series and a divisional game, this is an important home game and the first one in almost two weeks.

The Canucks have won six of their last eight at home, which bodes well for them since the Flames are 5-10-3 on the road and have lost seven of their last nine on the road.

"We're going to want to make it two in a row in our division," says Vigneault. "Our record in our division can be better. We need to keep winning at home. We're playing well at home lately so there's a lot of great things out there for a great hockey game tonight."

They hope to bring what they did last night at the Pengrowth Saddledome home to GM Place and finish what they started against the Flames.

"The first period I think we played well and it really gave us momentum going into the second," said Luongo. "We played a solid period even though the score was 0-0."

Impressing the home crowd - excited to see the Canucks, coming off a win - should be easy as long as they stick to the game plan.

"I think we played our game for pretty much 60 minutes," said Bieksa. "We didn't turn the puck over too much, we got the puck deep, and I think defensively we did a good job. Especially on the top line, our forwards were really helping us down low and obviously Roberto made some big saves."

"We play good hockey at home here, we have for the last five or six games so we have to come out, play our game and take it to them."