A Different Sort of Canucks Tonight
Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 10:17 AM PT
Jerry Seinfeld used to have a classic line when he talked about the difficulty for sports fans to remain loyal to their teams, with players changing teams so often. "You're actually," he famously said, "just rooting for laundry."
I was prompted to remember that line when I think of tonight's Ducks-Canucks preseason game, as compared to the one last Saturday in Vancouver. Anaheim won that game 4-1 against a Canucks team that was resting most of its big names. Tonight, the only similarity about that Canucks team and the one coming into Honda Center tonight is the laundry.
Actually, even that's not true, as the Canucks wore their home blues on Saturday and will be in their whites tonight. But coach Alain Vigneault indicated this week that "quite a few veterans" -- most of whom got the night off last Saturday night -- will be in uniform tonight. That includes the Sedin twins, fellow forward Mikael Samuelsson, defenseman Dan Hamhuis, and for the first time this year, Roberto Luongo in net.
In contrast to that Saturday date in Vancouver, the Ducks left a lot of their household names at home the following evening, when a team of mostly Ducks youngsters took down a veteran-heavy Kings lineup, 3-1 in LA.
"The effort and the tenacity that we showed tonight was a huge upgrade from where we've been the first three games of the year," said Randy Carlyle after that win. "We were pretty good [Saturday] night in Vancouver, but we couldn't really judge because we didn't play against the same quality of lineup we played tonight."
The Ducks will get that lineup tonight from the Canucks. And as we get closer to opening night -- with Ducks roster having been trimmed to 29 -- expect to see a lot of Ducks tonight that don't require the names on the backs of their sweaters. Here is the tentative lineup:
At the skate this morning, the RPG line skated together while Brandon McMillan joined Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne on the second line. Andrew Cogliano, who has been shuttled between the wing and the pivot this preseason, centered the third line with Andrew Gordon and Devante Smith-Pelly. Carlyle said Cogliano's play at center on Sunday against the Kings was a big influence. "We’re probably going to stick with him as a center," he said, "because [his effectiveness there] was very noticeable."
Three players not in the lineup tonight will be Matt Beleskey (getting closer to being activated after shoulder surgery), J.F. Jacques (who was placed on waivers a day after being suspended by the NHL) and Toni Lydman. The defenseman will not play the rest of the postseason as he continues to recover from offseason surgery on a torn labrum. Lydman has been skating with the team, but is still not cleared for contact. He figures to travel with the Ducks to his native Finland, but whether he will play in those games remains to be seen.
“He’s not far away,” Carlyle said yesterday. “There is still nothing like playing in game situations. You can practice all you want. There is going to be a certain amount of rust that we all know. But we trust his hockey knowledge and conditioning level and his compete level, the type of player he is.”
Lydman, of course, missed all of the preseason last year and the first four games of the regular season. But he bounced back to have a very solid year for Anaheim, finishing second in the league with a +32 rating while teaming most of the year with Lubomir Visnovsky on the top defensive pairing.