Two In Texas
The loss of Matt Cooke, Alex Burrows, and Ryan Kelser precipitated a couple of call-ups from Manitoba, and 21 year-old Dane Jannik Hansen shone.
The fresh-faced rookie logged just under ten minutes of ice in his first ever NHL game and finished with four shots. More than that, Hansen continually picked the pockets of the Dallas defence and set up two of the Canucks' best scoring chances in the third period.
The lanky Dane fed Jan Bulis in the slot for a one-timer that rang square off the post, and fed a puck back up between the Dallas defence late in the game to a rushing Salo Salo, who had a clean look at Marty Turco.
By then end of the game head coach Alain Vigneault had the right-handed Hansen skating with the Twins on the power play.
"When you get a little more ice time out there you're supposed to create a little bit more offensively and set up chances, but last night they just didn't want to go in," said Hansen, who admitted his parents back in Denmark went out yesterday and bought a cable package just to watch their son on television.
"Coming into the game I was just happy to be here, so no, I didn't expect [the increased minutes] at all."
Vigneault said no matter what happens with Cooke and Burrows, Hansen - along with fellow call-up Nathan Smith - will likely play Sunday in Dallas.
"I thought he had a lot of energy and competed hard in his one-on-one situations and you could see a lot of skill and good speed, which in this series is what you need," said Vigneault.
"He did really well and was one of our better offensive players last night."
Not a bad debut for a rookie, especially considering the Canucks drafted him in the seventh round of the 2004 draft (287th overall).
There's a nine-hour time difference between Denmark and Vancouver, but it didn't stop his friends and family from watching the game.
"Last night I had quite a few [messages] waiting for me. A lot of friends from back home were happy to see it and wanted to congratulate me."
They weren't the only ones. Hansen had so many requests for interview from the Danish press Friday morning that he had to turn his cell phone off.
Canuck fore checking missile Alex Burrows was run head-first into the boards by Dallas defender Stephane Robidas in game one. He crumpled to the ice and struggled to get to the bench on a set of rubber legs.
Burrows went directly to the room and sent a message to his girlfriend to let her know he was okay, before watching the rest of the game in street clothes.
The Canucks missed his energy against a staunch Stars defence Friday night, but they could have him back on the bench as soon as Sunday.
"No nothing," said Burrows, when asked if he felt any concussion symptoms. "That's what [the doctors] said - it might be a concussion or it might not. But I don't think [it is] because I've had no symptoms, no headaches, no problems eating and no dizziness. Right now I feel good and should have no problems going tomorrow."
He skated with the team for the full practice Saturday morning.
"I'm looking forward to it actually, just to get back in there and throw the body around, skate hard and get in on the fore check," he said. "Tomorrow's a big game for us, we have to regroup and refocus."
Vigneault wouldn't confirm that Burrows will play, though he did say both Hansen and Smith are a good bet to dress, which would mean Santala could be the odd man out.
While he clearly would have rather been on the ice, Burrows did admit that watching from the press box gave him a different perspective.
"I think they had a really good start and got the crowd out of it a little bit. After that, in the third we had a lot of chances and Turco made a lot of big saves. They're going to be tight games and you can't really fall down 2-0."
The other half of the Canucks' fore checking nightmare, Matt Cooke, didn't skate on Saturday.
"He's day-to-day," said Vigneault. "I think our intentions right now - because we've got so many players around the team - are to keep him back here with Marty [Dudgeon] to get treatments. If he improves we'll fly him in."
Josh Green continued to rehab his knee. He could dress Sunday but will be a game time decision.
THE ROAD RULES
The Canucks finished the season on a well-publicized post-Christmas run that saw them stack up a 17-5-1 road record.
One of those five losses came at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. In fact, the Canucks haven't won in Texas all season. Though that doesn't bother Luongo.
"We play really well on the road, and for me personally, I enjoy playing on the road," he said."I especially like it in a hostile environment. It gets me motivated and it's something I enjoy."
"The feeling is we have to get the job done on the road and like I said, we play well on the road so that's not an issue."
The ice at the AA Center is a different story. The Mavericks finish a game only hours before the puck drops on game three. The sheet in Dallas is sketchy at the best of times, so it could be downright nasty on Sunday.
"Ice doesn't affect the goalie that much," said Luongo. "Obviously if the crease gets a little sloppy, it could get hard to get across... and if it is a little sloppy, you just have to make an adjustment."