Ups and downs mark Canucks intrasquad game

Maybe Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” should have been the theme song of the Vancouver Canucks intrasquad game at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, BC on September 16.

The sold-out crowd of 7,006 had lots of love for their heroes, present and future, who showed off their skills over three 25-minute periods (played mostly in real time, non-stop). But in a friendly game intended to evaluate talent and develop team chemistry at the conclusion of training camp, nobody wanted to see Roberto Luongo, Sami Salo, and Trevor Linden injured.

Luongo got hurt with about four minutes left in the first period when Brad Isbister’s one-timer from just above the hashmarks caught the superstar goalie in the throat area. After receiving attention from the trainer, Luongo left the game for further repairs.

Drew MacIntyre carried the load the rest of the way for the White team, which fell 4-3 to the Blue side due to Taylor Pyatt’s two third-period goals.

“I felt bad,” said Isbister. “Obviously I didn’t mean to do that. It just happened. It was a one-timer, and unfortunately it got him in a bad spot.”

“Louie’s been in this position before,” said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. “We’ve seen him go down before. It’s part of the game. This is nothing serious. It’s close to where he got hit last year in Montreal [in the throat by Daniel Sedin during a January 15 practice]. There was no sense in taking any chances. He’ll be fine and be back in practice tomorrow.”

Linden suffered a slight groin pull, while Salo jammed his wrist and was taken to a Victoria hospital for further examination.

Vigneault wasn’t complaining about the overall course of the game: “The pace was good and there was some decent hitting for a game between teammates.”

Besides the 25-minute periods, another unusual aspect was the substitution of penalty shots in lieu of actual penalties. The format didn’t pay dividends for Brendan Morrison, one of Vancouver’s top shootout aces in 2006-07 with six goals on nine attempts. Here, the Pitt Meadows-born center was denied three straight times by Curtis Sanford (once) and Julien Ellis (twice). Out of 11 total attempts here, only one succeeded, as Pyatt managed to beat MacIntyre with a nifty move and shot along the ice.

Prior to the game, Marc-Andre Bernier, Colby Genoway, and Mario Bliznak were sent down to the AHL, and Chad Brownlee was released. Julien Ellis was assigned to the Manitoba Moose afterwards.

Provided none of the foregoing injuries are too severe, the Canucks will leave Victoria with fond memories of their visit to the provincial capital this fall.

“For the last four or five days, it’s been great,” said Naslund. “It’s unreal for us to see the following around BC. It’s not just Vancouver. Everywhere we go, they’re so passionate about the Canucks.”

Curtis Sanford is slated to start in goal in September 17’s opening exhibition game versus the Anaheim Ducks at GM Place.’s Three Prospect Stars

1) Alexander Edler: The 21-year-old Swedish defenseman made some fine outlet passes, skated the puck through the neutral zone, and pinched in when appropriate. Better yet, he scored a goal on a high blast from the blueline. “[Alexandre] Burrows did a good job in front of the net so that the goalie couldn’t see it,” Edler said. “I still want to get a little more friendly with the puck and make simple plays. [The coaches] just want me to do what I’m good at, but be a little more physical and intense. I feel I’m prepared to take the next step.” Vigneault concurred: “Edler was fine. He looks really poised out there, and he looks really good.”

2) Rick Rypien: Cashing in a rebound to open the scoring at 11:12 of the first period was a perfect start for this hyper-intense Albertan. But he didn’t stop there. Persistent in his aggressive checking, he took a big run at Edler (who just dodged out of the way), and even got tangled up with Markus Naslund at one point behind the goal line. As usual, Rypien wouldn’t be outworked.

3) Jannik Hansen: No, Hansen didn’t crack the scoresheet, but he patrolled the ice with an NHLer’s authority, and he made things happen. Strong on the puck, he circled the net and sent a great feed to Jason Jaffray in the first period, and nearly gave Jeff Cowan the tying goal on the doorstep in the final minute. After the game, both Vigneault and Naslund singled Hansen out for praise.

Honorable Mentions: Juraj Simek was strong on the puck along the boards and in the corners, and wound up with a goal and an assist. Mike Brown skated hard and threw some solid hits. Mason Raymond continued to impress with his speed, but strength may still be an issue for the gifted collegian. Digg it Furl iFeedReaders Netscape RawSugar reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo MyWeb YardBarker

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