|THE VANCOUVER SUN
|Canucks find new life in Denver
Iain MacIntyre writes about Mike Weaver’s battle scar from the 4-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche.
MacIntyre said, “Like an extra from that gritty film of the Pulp Fiction genre, Canuck defenceman Mike Weaver sat in the dressing room, a welt on his right cheek pushing hard against a shiny track of new, blue stitches.”
"If you've got stitches, it shows you've done something," Weaver smiled.
“At least he wasn't bleeding anymore and neither were the Canucks, who responded to the long-term loss of key defencemen Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo by winning 4-3 against a potent Colorado Avalanche team that had been 6-0 in Denver,” said MacInyre
“It was a victory the Canucks desperately needed on many levels: in the National Hockey League standings, for morale, for self-affirmation, for hope.”
"Obviously, we needed the two points," defenceman Mattias Ohlund said. "But for this group to come here and beat a very good team in their building, it shows that we're still competitive. Maybe we can build momentum from this and get some confidence and swagger back."
“Daniel Sedin's goals, and ones by Brendan Morrison and Ryan Kesler, all came by charging hard to the Avalanche net. Kesler's goal, for example, came after first Taylor Pyatt, then Naslund charged hard to the crease to whack at pucks,” MacIntyre said.
“Along the boards, the Canucks also supported the puck better than they had this season. And Alex Burrows, Byron Ritchie and Matt Cooke provided a physical element on the forecheck that had been missing.”
"We were a lot better on the one-on-one battles and getting to pucks," Naslund said. "It was all-around a much more competitive effort. I think part of that is guys understanding that there are key players out. We have to play to our strengths now, and right now we've got more defensive guys on the back end."
"A win cures everything," Luongo said. "It makes you forget about what just happened."
|Young defensemen take big step up at the right time
Ben Kuzma said now that key veteran players are on the injury list, this is the time for younger players to step up and show their full potential.
“In other words, the future may be now for the young blueliners. Edler can play and Luc Bourdon is steadily improving,” said Kuzma.
“The Canucks were also buoyed by Mike Weaver's play Saturday in a pairing with Mattias Ohlund. And Edler and Bourdon didn't look out of place with Willie Mitchell and Aaron Miller, respectively. Weaver logged 19:35 of ice time and was a minus-1. Edler played 22:04 and Bourdon 13:57. Both were plus-1.”
"It's a good opportunity for some of the younger players to get some real chances and see how some of your veterans respond to adversity," said Nonis. "The last few games players have stepped it up and it's promising to see the way that Ryan Kesler and Taylor Pyatt have come to the forefront a little bit. We need more of it."
|Swedish connection clicks
Ben Kuzma said that placing Markus Naslun back with the Sedin twins was one of the best decisions made this season.
Kuzma said, “while coach Alain Vigneault played the right hunch by re-uniting Markus Naslund with Henrik and Daniel Sedin -- Daniel had two goals and an assist, Henrik three assists and Naslund two helpers -- it was the grit quotient that was most obvious.”
"It feels good. I'm not going to lie, it would have hurt us if we didn't come out of here with any points. Guys bared down tonight and we changed a few things with our system and we were pretty successful,” said Roberto Luongo.
"Obviously, we needed to get something going here because the last few days have been tough," said Naslund. "We've all been around long enough to know what we have to do, especially with key guys out.
"This win was huge because we've been challenged all over the place," said Henrik. "We scored on the chances we got tonight and that's how we've got to play."
|Nazzy, Mo could be trade bait if losing continues.
Tony Gallagher said that GM Dave Nonis may begin to think about making big trades to help the team get out of the rut.
“It is still very early in the season so it would be well to wait a while to see if the Vancouver Canucks can pull out of this funk, particularly given nobody is playing anywhere near his capability,” said Gallagher.
“Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison had built up tremendous followings during the years they played with Todd Bertuzzi. They were fun to watch, the games were exciting and Naslund and Morrison could have run for any office in the province.”
Gallagher said, “Somehow that following for Naslund and Morrison has been eroded. Whether it's been playing in this banal system that puts defence first or whether it's the injuries Naslund and Morrison have sustained over the past two plus seasons, it's all come apart.”
“But his star has fallen and the reaction to his departure would be nothing like it would have been had Nonis not re-signed him after the lockout.”
“The playoffs aren't that far away and all you have to do is make them to have a shot at a Cup with Luongo as your goalie,” said Gallagher.
“The season doesn't have to be over and what we all want to see is Naslund, Morrison, Cooke and this whole team get back their lustre because they can all still play.”
|THE VANCOUVER SUN
|Bieksa’s Achilles tendon not damaged
Iain MacIntyre said Kevin Bieksa’s calf is damaged, but not his Achilles tendon, which would’ve prolonged his healing time.
“The lower leg injury to defenceman Kevin Bieksa is more serious than originally believed, but Vancouver Canucks general manager Dave Nonis emphasized Sunday that the player's Achilles tendon did not require repair on Friday,” said MacIntyre.
“Bieksa's calf muscle was lacerated Thursday when he was stepped on by Vern Fiddler of the Nashville Predators. A report Sunday suggested the 26-year-old's Achilles tendon was also cut, which could be a season-ending injury. But Nonis said the additional damage was to a smaller muscle, below the calf, which is attached to the Achilles, and that the tendon itself was intact. “
MacIntyre said, “Nobody has yet put a definitive time frame on Bieksa's recovery, but speculation that he could return to the Canucks lineup in two months might be unrealistic.”