|THE GLOBE & MAIL
|Rookies ray of light on defense
Grant Kerr said that it takes longer for young defensemen to adapt to the NHL level of hockey compared to forwards. But with three key defensemen out, the Canucks are hoping to have their young defensemen step up to the challenge and adjust now.
Experience is everything when defending, old-timers and present-day coaches expound, so it's not often NHL teams have youngsters fresh out of junior or those just over from Europe taking regular shifts.
Vancouver blueliners Lukas Krajicek has a broken bone in his foot after an off-ice fall, Sami Salo had facial surgery after being struck with a puck and Kevin Bieksa is in a cast up to his thigh after surgery on calf muscles that had been lacerated by a skate.
To fill the void, the Canucks are using Alexander Edler, 21, and Luc Bourdon, 20, along with Mike Weaver, 29, who is far more experienced after several years in the NHL and the minor leagues.
"Talent has no age," head coach Alain Vigneault said yesterday. "If he's ready, play him."
"It's tougher for defensemen [to break into the NHL],” said Aaron Miller. “It's all positioning. If you're not sure, get back to the front of the net and make the other team come through you. The key for [Bourdon] is to communicate."
Bourdon seems to have matured some after playing 10 games in the AHL this season for the Manitoba Moose. Edler also has played two games with Vancouver's top affiliate.
"I know we're short some of our best players, so I try to fill those guys shoes,” said Luc Bourdon.
|Matvichuk a big maybe for bedeviled blueline
Tony Gallagher said the Canucks may be able to sign defenseman Richard Matvichuk because he will be put on waivers from the New Jersey Devils.
“The New Jersey Devils put veteran defenceman Richard Matvichuk on waivers Monday and there is a small possibility he could end up in Vancouver to help out the defensively bedeviled Canucks,” Gallagher said.
“It would only happen if he clears waivers today as expected and then is put on re-entry waivers, which would mean any NHL team could claim him at half the cap hit as would be normal for this final year of his $1.3-million per-season deal.”
Gallagher said, “Nonis could not be reached for comment late Monday, but it's likely he would be concerned about Matvichuk's speed, the 34-year-old having undergone disc-removal surgery in his back at the end of the 2005-06 season on the heels of a serious knee injury before that.”
“He's been a healthy scratch going on a month now.”
"Right now, we don't have that."
|THE VANCOUVER SUN
|O-line gets very underbar
Gordon McIntyre said that Coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t going to split up Markus Naslund and the Sedin Twins last season, but it did happen. And now, their first time reuniting this season, their line banked a total of eight points.
“For the moment Naslund and the Sedins -- who combined for two goals and six assists in the Canucks' 4-3 win over the Avalanche -- will remain together, giving the Canucks a top-heavy scoring punch.,” said McIntyre.
“With apologies to hockey-mad Rob Murphy and his sidekicks on the B.C. Lions, let's call the trio from Ornskoldsvik the O-line.”
"I think it's something right now we want to stick with," Vigneault said. "We're loading up that line and let's go.”
"They rose to the occasion against Colorado and we've got another one coming up [Thursday] against Calgary. Hopefully they can do the same thing for us."
"It was an eye-opener for us, realizing what we have to do to be successful," Naslund said of the win. "And any time you get a chance to play with two guys like that, it's fun. You know you're going to be involved in the offence, that you're going to have the puck quite a bit. I enjoyed it."