The results of the 2007 NHL All-Star Fan balloting was
announced on Tuesday night, which meant big news for two Canucks, although only one is going to Dallas.
After receiving 484, 861 fan votes, Roberto Luongo will start in his NHL All-Star game on January 24 for the first time. This marks the fifth time in Canucks history that a player was selected by fans to the All-Star Game starting line-up.
"It's a great feeling and it's going to be a nice experience to be part of that weekend," said Luongo. "It's going to be fun."
Luongo is the second Canuck goaltender to receive the All-Star start since Kirk McLean in 1992. This is Luongo's second All-Star appearance.
To date, Luongo's played in 41 of the Canucks 43 games and ranked second among goaltenders for ice time but he's not complaining and welcomes the extra playing time - even if it's just for 20 minutes.
"I'm going to have three days before that completely off so that's plenty of rest, besides so you don't want to have five days off and then have a practice and a game so it'll be nice to get those three days off and a get a couple of days on the ice."
Clearly, with the amount of fan votes received, Luongo's fans love him but his team mates and coaches alike don't disagree one bit.
"It's a well deserved honour especially in the last little while here, he's been our strongest player," said head coach Alain Vigneault. "He's going to get an opportunity to go there and relax and play one period."
"He's been our leader and it's really well-deserved that he's been voted in [by fans]," said Markus Naslund. "I think it's a great honour for the organization and for him personally too."
Should we expect a new swagger from the All-Star goalie? Nope.
"That's not going to change him at all, he's obviously happy about it and it's a huge honour when fans vote you in."
In 41 games, Luongo's recorded 24 wins - good for second in the league - and a 2.44 GAA and a .914 save percentage.
THANKS FOR VOTING
The voting ended a week ago but the buzz around the "Vote for Rory" campaign never stopped. The fans of the campaign are silenced when the NHL released the results.
After earning 550,177 fan votes from the campaign, Fitzpatrick is third amongst Western Conference defencemen and set a record for the most votes received by a write-in candidate.
He didn't the let the media attention or attention from the campaign bother him.
"I didn't lose any sleep over it, it wasn't something I stressed over. It wasn't the most terrible thing in the world but it will be nice that it's over and now everyone can move on and the stars will be playing and everyone can enjoy it."
"I think he handled it extremely well," said Vigneault. "His overall demeanour and the way he handled media questions. A lot of people were really hard on him, which I thought was quite unfair at some times because he didn't ask for [all the attention] but I thought he handled it really well."
He's already made history with the fan voting and the campaign but when it become history what's going to be left of it?
"There are a lot of neat things that came out of it at least like the stuff on youtube and I got a new t-shirt but I think I'll look back and it'll be a funny thing."
"I'm sure I'll laugh at it [in the future when I look back on it]."
Fitzpatrick finished third behind Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer and Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom beat out Fitzpatrick by 22,892 votes.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
The Canucks have won seven straight but what's even more impressive is they've won eight straight at home. They will have a chance to tie a record-high nine straight at home since 1992 tonight against Minnesota.
"I think we've established that home presence and it helps with the fan support that we have so it is fun to play at home right now," said Naslund.
"I think it sends a pretty loud message throughout the league but at the same time we can't take things for granted," says Luongo. "They can't come in here thinking two points are going to be easy."
Five of the last seven games have been against divisional rivals. The Canucks won all five meetings to improve their divisional record to 9-9-1, which started December at 1-6-1.
"It took us a little while to establish a presence at home but we're finally coming around and we're doing that."
Minnesota's record against Northwest opponents is 5-5-2 after falling to Calgary Tuesday night.
The Canucks record against the Wild this season is 1-2-1 with the only win coming at home. The Canucks at home are 15-7-0, while the Wild's road record is 4-15-1. The Wild have only won one game on the road in regulation.
But with the Northwest separated by just four points (after Edmonton took two points last night), the Canucks don't want to give up anything.
"Another big game for us and it seems like we've been wining here lately but seems like everyone else is winning or getting points," said Morrison. "A lot of games against divisional rivals are going into shootouts and everyone's getting points so it forces us to keep winning because really we're not getting any type of gap."
BACK FOR ANOTHER ROUND
Twenty year old rookie, Alex Edler, who's already played 12 games with the Canucks earlier this season was recalled from the Manitoba Moose Wednesday.
He will play tonight against Minnesota with Lukas Krajicek as the third defensive pairing for the Canucks. Rory Fitzpatrick will sit tonight.
Edler filled gaps caused by injuries last month but with a healthy blueline, his role this time around is a little different.
"We've got five games to play before the all-star game and four of them are on the road," said Vigneault. "I talked to Dave earlier this week and I thought it was important for us to leave for the road trip with seven D."
The young defenseman impressed Vigneault with his play during his last stint with the Canucks, which earned him another trip to Vancouver this time around.
Edler has two points (1-1-2) with the Canucks and in 24 games with the Moose, he's registered 15 points (3-12-15).