Fighting For Position

Saturday, 31.03.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
Vancouver Canucks
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Fighting For Position


ELBOW ROOM

The Canucks have been without Mattias Ohlund for three games now - he's sidelined with a cut on his elbow.

As small as it is, the laceration's proved quite controversial. Despite the prying questions at press conferences and dressing room scrums, there's really no mystery. The wound is all stitched up and nearly healed, but it's still prone to infection.

So why all the precaution and why hasn't Ohlund skated with the team yet?

"The risk for infection has been pretty high over the last week so we obviously don't want to take that chance now," says Ohlund. "Hopefully within a few days I can be back on the ice."

"I'm not taking the risk of skating in practice, if I go down, it could mean I would be out for a long time."

Ohlund could be back on the Canucks bench as early as Thursday.

While there's no real concern for Ohlund's injury as the regular season winds up, having fellow defenceman Sami Salo missing in action will make the push for the division title even tougher.

Salo missed three games with a groin injury before returning for one - and scoring the game winner - but sat out against LA.

The 6'3" Turku native has missed 14 games overall this season. And while the Canucks are 8-5-1 without Salo in the lineup, Vancouver wants him healthy as soon as possible.

"Sami skated this morning and told me he felt as good as he did the morning he played in Colorado so we're going to keep him off tonight and he'll practice on his own tomorrow," said head coach Alain Vigneault.


INJURY REPORT

Another body was noticeably absent from practice Saturday morning.

Brendan Morrison received treatment for a stiff back both today and yesterday. Not to worry, Morrison will be fine and will dress tonight against the Flames.

Ryan Kesler's missed 28 games so far with a hip injury since January 26th but his recovery is going well and is right on schedule.

"He saw the doctor in Colorado and he's not ahead of schedule, he's not behind schedule," said Vigneault. "He's following his program and we'll see what happens down the stretch."

Before being put on the Canucks long term injured reserve, Kesler has racked up 16 points (6-10-16) in 48 games and was a plus-1.

Rick Rypien, who's battled with injuries all year, is still facing challenges with his most recent injury. While rumours suggested Rypien may return to the lineup for a game this week, it is unlikely.

"It was supposed to be 12 week injury that's turning out to be 16, 17, 18 week - he might not even come back," said Vigneault. "He didn't skate today and we're going to keep him off for three or four days. "He keeps saying he's sore. Sooner or later two things are going to happen: either he's going to play a game and continue, or we're going to have to go in and find out what's in there."

Rypien's played just over nine and half minutes with the Canucks in two games this year. He dressed in 14 games with the Manitoba Moose registering six points (3-3-6).

Josh Green is hopeful for his return in about two week, just around the time for game one of the postseason.


RED HOT FLAMES

With two points tonight, the Calgary Flames would clinch the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, making it the first time in club history that the Colorado Avalanche haven't made the playoffs since leaving Quebec.

The Flames have won five straight, three of those on the road, including back-to-back wins in Minnesota.

"We know that they're playing well right now," says captain Markus Naslund. "They beat Minnesota twice and Minnesota's a really good team so we know it's going to be a similar game as we usually have against Calgary. We have to raise our level a lot from the way we played in LA and I think we're going to have a chance."

The Canucks have points in their last eight, including shutouts against Nashville and Colorado.

Jarome Iginla scored his first hat trick of the year to help the Flames to a 4-2 win over the Wild Thursday night. He has 6 points (3-3-6) in the last four games and are just four points back of Minnesota and seven behind Vancouver.

"He's playing exceptional, especially last game, what an important game it was for their team, and he definitely stepped up and led the charge for them so I expect nothing but that from him tonight," said Willie Mitchell, who knows him all to well.

The Canucks need to win three of the remaining five games to clinch the divisional title but with a hungry Flames team hoping to guarantee their ticket to the postseason, there's no doubt it'll be a heated battle - just like the previous seven.

"I'm sure they're going to come out hard, they're always a tough team to play against, they're physical and they're always some spirited games," said Taylor Pyatt.

"Calgary, right now, are playing really well as a group," says Vigneault. "They're very focused right now and played two very strong games against a really hot Minnesota. They're not a one line team, they're playing really hard as a group and we're going to have to be on top."