Canucks Report - Johnson ready to play
Bernier strikes twice
After missing 20 games with a broken foot and finger that required surgery, Ryan Johnson is set to rejoin the line up.
"[Johnson will be a] game time decision," said head coach Alain Vigneault. "He's looked real good in the three practices here that we've had him with the team. If he says ready to go tomorrow, he'll go."
Asked how he felt after practice today, Johnson said he feels good and wants to play tomorrow.
The shot blocker and face off specialist has fully rehabbed his foot, and continues to have pain and stiffness in his right index finger, something he will have to learn to play through.
Johnson ranks fourth on the team for blocked shots, with 36, despite having only played in 22 games so far this season. The Canucks still without star goaltender Roberto Luongo look forward to Johnson's return.
HANSEN RECALLED, BOLDUC RE-ASSIGNED
Things are looking up for speedy Dane, Jannik Hansen. Vancouver Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that right winger Hansen has been recalled from the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.
Hansen, 22, has recorded 17 points (4-13-17) and 27 penalty minutes in 37 games with Vancouver this season. In two games with the Moose this season, Hansen has collected one goal and two penalty minutes. Last season with the Moose, Hansen had 21 goals, 22 assists and 43 points in 50 games played.
The 6-foot-1, 190 lbs. native of Herlev, Denmark, was chosen 287th overall by the Canucks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Alexandre Bolduc has been re-assigned to the Moose. Bolduc has played in five games with the Canucks this season, registering one assist and four penalty minutes.
LUONGO INCHING CLOSER
Luongo participated in the first twenty minutes of the full team practice this afternoon at GM Place. Yesterday he joined ten of his teammates at the optional game day skate at Rexall Place in Edmonton, facing shots from the players for the first time since December 10th.
"Today was his first day on the ice with the whole team, another controlled environment," said Vigneault. "No traffic, no 2-on-1, no 3-on-2, so everything seems to be coming along at normal pace. I think there's a chance he might take the morning skate with us tomorrow and do the 2-on-1 and 3-on-2 and stuff like that."
“I’m getting closer,” said Luongo. “There is no date or anything like that, but I’ve made some really good strides this last week. I’ve been challenging it more and more every day and it’s been feeling really good. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”
As for the All-Star team honour, Luongo maintains that if he has played a few games and feels he is in true form he would love to partake. However, he will not risk re-injury if he doesn’t feel ready. The only Canuck named to the 2009 Western All-Star team, Luongo will be in Montreal regardless, visiting his family.
“If I’m back before then playing games, and I feel 100 percent, I’d love to represent my team,” said Luongo. “But I’m not going to push myself to do something I’m not ready for. We’ll see as the days go by where we’re at next week.”
SUNDIN’S CANUCK CAREER STARTS ON A HIGH NOTE
The Canucks defeated the Oilers in Edmonton last night to improve new goalie Jason LaBarbera's record to 2-0-2. LaBarbera stood tall in net, turning away 23 shots, while the Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, and Steve Bernier line lit up the ice, combining for an impressive six points.
Bernier netted two goals, only 12 seconds apart after setting up Burrows to open scoring in the 4-2 victory. The 23 year old winger ended a 13 game scoreless streak with his eighth and ninth of the season, earning the first star of the game.
"We didn't see their top four defencemen all night," said Burrows. "We saw a lot of their third pairing, so obviously that's going to open up ice for us. I think everybody will be benefit from [Mats Sundin]."
While Bernier’s offensive production was outstanding, attention was still fixated on another Canuck. Mats Sundin made his official debut as a Canuck and though he remained relatively quiet, the powerful Swede gave Vancouver fans a sneak peak to what they can expect from him this season.
Sundin in his first NHL game in nine months, after only two full team practices, made his presence felt on the ice and his skill shone through any rust. He collected 15:02 minutes of ice time and seemed to only get better as the night wore on.
"It felt better physically than I would have expected," said Sundin. "The thing you feel that is missing is your hands and your timing with shots and all that, but you have to play games to get that back. It's nice to get that first game out of the way. It's nice to be part of a win my first game."
Last night’s match up was a significant divisional game, as the Oilers were sitting only six points behind the Canucks in the standings, with three games in hand. The team rose to the occasion and after a slow start, tallied three goals in the second period, before Pavol Demitra sealed the deal with the insurance goal on an empty net to end the game.
The potential power play with Sundin alongside the Sedins also looked promising. One TV announce joked that is was the Swedish National team taking the ice, but the seamless passing and instinctive spacing the combination displayed was no joke.