Press Round-Up: MAR.06.08
Brendan Morrison skated Wednesday and he shot the puck, and now it appears just a matter of days until he rejoins the Vancouver Canucks' lineup.
The 32-year-old centre hasn't played since Dec. 10, when his aching right wrist forced him to the sidelines. He subsequently underwent tendon surgery.
Wednesday was his first practice with the full team.
"It was mostly flow drills, there weren't any battle drills at all," said Morrison, who last week explained he will need "battle drills" to determine whether he has sufficient strength in the wrist for game action. "I wanted to get some skating in and timing more than anything.
"It felt a little quick out there at times, which I expected, but overall I thought it went pretty well. I don't exactly know what the next step is."
Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault is anxiously awaiting Morrison's return. The team has tried Jason Jaffray, Ryan Shannon and Mason Raymond in Morrison's second-line spot, but none has Morrison's experience.
"Brendan is a very important part of our team and we're looking forward to having him back," said Vigneault. "He's been skating quite a bit on his own, so as soon as he tells me the hand is ready to go, obviously we're going to put him in."
Morrison, whose contract is up at the conclusion of this season, had 20 points in 30 games before the surgery. He still stands eighth on the Canucks' individual scoring list.
The Province reported on Mattias Ohlund’s injury status:
Mattias Ohlund had an MRI (magnetic resonance image) on Wednesday to evaluate the extent of a knee injury he suffered Tuesday in Denver.
The Vancouver Canucks defenceman logged 20:20 of ice time in a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche and didn't leave the game early. In fact, Ohlund logged nine shifts and 7:33 of ice time in the third period and his last shift of 1:11 ended at 18:49.
"I found out after the game," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. "Bernie [medical trainer Mike Burnstein] told me that Ohlie told him that he doesn't remember [being hurt]."
"It's too early to tell [the damage] and the only thing I know is that he's not going to play [tonight] because the knee has swelled up."
Ohlund has appeared in 50 games this season and has 22 points (8-14) and is a minus-1 in 23:56 of average ice time. He missed 11 games this season when he suffered a concussion Dec. 18 in a corner-boards collision against the New Jersey Devils.
His head hit the seamless glass at GM Place on his first shift. He soldiered on with a stiff neck and finished that game, then logged 24:20 against Dallas on Dec. 20 and 24:11 two nights later in Phoenix before neck pain and headaches became too strong.
Ohlund also suffered two concussions in his first two NHL seasons (1997-98, '98-99).
In his absence, the Canucks have recalled Luc Bourdon from the Manitoba Moose and will carry seven blueliners because they play 13 games in the next 25 days.
Bourdon, 21, has two goals in 17 NHL games this season and is a plus-8. With the Moose, he has 13 points (6-7) in 38 games and has collected 66 penalty minutes.
Just under two weeks ago, the Vancouver Canucks were within a point of first place in the Northwest Division. With less than a month to go in the regular season, however, they are in danger of missing the playoffs completely.
The Canucks look to avoid losing five straight games for the first time in two years tonight when they host a Nashville Predators club they are chasing in the Western Conference standings.
Vancouver (32-24-10) appeared to be poised for a strong playoff push after running its winning streak to a season-high four games with a 4-1 victory over league-best Detroit on Feb. 23. That win brought the Canucks into a five-way tie for fifth place in the West and only one point behind Northwest-leading Minnesota.
However, they have since fallen five points out of the division lead by losing four in a row to match their longest losing streak of the season. Vancouver has dropped two points behind Nashville (34-25-8) and Colorado for the West's final two playoff spots.
A regulation loss in this game, coupled with an Avalanche win over Anaheim on Thursday, would push Vancouver four points out of the playoff picture with 15 games remaining.
The Canucks, who have not dropped five consecutive games since March 5-14, 2006, have scored just six goals during their skid following a 2-1 loss to Colorado on Tuesday.
"Our guys are squeezing their sticks a little bit on offense," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "It's not going in for us right now. Our guys are good hockey players and they are in a funk right now. We have to keep working."
Daniel Sedin leads Vancouver with 26 goals, but has gone a season-high six straight games without scoring and he has just four goals in his last 20. Twin brother and Canucks points leader Henrik Sedin has no points and two assists over the last six games. In that same span, Markus Naslund has failed to record a point.
The Predators have had no such problems on offense lately, scoring 26 goals over their last seven games.
They scored on two of their first three shots Tuesday in a 5-1 victory over Edmonton, improving to 2-1-0 on a season-high six-game road trip. Martin Erat got his first career hat trick after going five straight games without a goal.
"It's great, especially when there's only 15 games left and the points are so important for us," said Erat, who has two goals and an assist in three games against Vancouver this season. "But it doesn't matter who scores for us, we just need points."
The Predators have lost their last two games against the Canucks, but both of those meetings came in Tennessee. Nashville won the only matchup this season in Vancouver and has won three of its last four visits there.
The Canucks have lost eight of their last 12 home games after winning 11 of their previous 12 at GM Place.
Jason Arnott, who leads the Predators with 39 assists and 63 points, has four goals and five assists during a six-game point streak. Arnott has two goals and three assists in three meetings with Vancouver this season.
Predators goaltender Dan Ellis has made back-to-back solid starts, stopping 29 shots on Tuesday after making 24 saves in Saturday's 3-1 win at Dallas. Nashville coach Barry Trotz may give Ellis, who is 7-1-1 with a 2.41 GAA and one shutout in his last 11 games, another start on Thursday as starting goalie Chris Mason is 0-2-2 with a 5.17 GAA in his last five contests.
While Ellis is 1-1-0 with a 2.02 GAA versus Vancouver this season, Mason has lost all three starts he's made against the Canucks in his career.
The telethon airs on TEAM 1040 AM from noon to midnight and on Sportsnet Pacific during the Canucks game against the Nashville Predators from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Donations can be made by phone (604-777-2273 or #2273 on your cellphone). Donations will also be accepted at the game or online at www.canucks.com