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Canucks Report - Thursday Oct.2nd

Thursday, 02.10.2008 / 1:52 PM / Features
Vancouver Canucks
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Canucks Report - Thursday Oct.2nd
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CAMP CENTRAL
Training camp roster at 31 
The Vancouver Canucks reduced their roster players after sending Cory Schneider, Alex Bolduc, and Shaun Heshka to the Manitoba Moose to join the team in preseason action.

Schneider appeared in two games for the Canucks this year, recording a win in his first start and a 21 save performance against the Sharks, where he played in just one period of the game. He finished he preseason campaign with the Canucks with a 91.5% save percentage.

Bolduc, who appeared in 70 games with the Moose last season, registering 18 goals and 37 points. He signed with the Vancouver over the summer and played two games with the Canucks through the preseason.

Heshka, played in just one preseason game this season, and will return to the Manitoba for his third season with the Moose.  He had 30 points (9-21-30) in 77 games in the 2007-08 season with Manitoba.

Following this morning’s skate at GM Place, head coach Alain Vigneault confirmed that Zack Fitzgerald was also released with 24 hours to clear waivers before joining the Manitoba Moose training camp. Fitzgerald, a 23 year old defenceman, traded to Vancouver by St. Louis for Francois-Pierre Guenette in 2007, played in one preseason game this year.

The roster now sits at 30 players going into the final two pre-season games.

Despite this morning’s skate being an optional practice for the team playing in tonight’s game, the players showed up in full force. Keeping their ice time short the coaches put them through skating, passing and shooting drills.

FINDING CHEMISTRY

Facing off at home tonight against the San Jose Sharks, the Canucks game roster will be a different mix of players than the team that defeated the Flames yesterday in a 6-1 victory. The Canucks are expected to experiment with their line combinations, while also allowing previous groupings time to establish chemistry before the regular season opener next week. The Sedins and Steve Bernier have proven to be promising line with a balance of grit and finesse, and will be one to watch.

“People define grit just by hitting and maybe fighting,” said Vigneault. “I define grit a lot of times by the willingness to be the first on the puck, to make a play, either to keep it in the zone or protect it. Or the willingness to go to the front of the net and stand there and take abuse while two or three players are around you trying to take care of you.

“Grit has a lot of different components to it and I think right now a guy, like Steve Bernier is showing grit. Going to those tough areas, willing to stay there, willing to take a lot of abuse because he did that in the game in Anaheim [and] he scored one and stood right in front for Sami’s goal. That’s part of the grit sometimes that gets overlooked.”

Jannik Hansen and his linemates Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows were a highlight of last night’s game combining for eight points. However, tonight neither Kesler and Burrows will be playing and the coaches will be looking to see if Hansen can shine with a different line.

Besides Hansen six other forwards are playing in the back to back games, including Mike Brown, Jeff Cowan, Mason Raymond, Matt Pettinger, Cody Hodgson, and Kyle Wellwood.

BRILLIANT BLUELINE

Last night’s game also illuminated the significant role of Vancouver’s defencemen. Expectations will likely be high following the win in which the blueline contributed a goal each from Alex Edler and Lawrence Nycholat and generated multiple chances. Tonight’s game will feature three of the Canucks top defencemen that sat out of yesterday’s match up. Kevin Bieksa, Willie Mitchell, and Sami Salo will take to the ice, as well as Rob Davison, Lukas Krajicek, Nycholat, and Nathan McIver.

"All teams that have success play very hard when they don’t have the puck to get it back in all three zones," said Vigneault. "We’ve got the same emphasis [on winning] that we’ve had in the past. Our defence, when they see that they can jump up in the play and help out in the attack, they’ve always had the green light to do that. My first year here we were second in scoring in our conference with our defence. So right now they’re jumping up when they need to and we’re getting some offensive chances off them.”

Noticably absent from yesterday’s game was veteran defenceman and newly appointed assistant captain Mattias Ohlund. Although Ohlund will also sit out of tonight’s game, Vigneault advised that he is simply nursing a tooth infection and should be practicing with the team on Saturday in preparation for the final pre-season game against Anaheim on Sunday.

More cuts are coming before or after Sunday’s game and based on the performance so far this preseason, the coaches and management staff have some difficult decisions to make.