Canucks' Vrbata misses game-day skate in Winnipeg; Grenier called up

Thomas Drance
November 18 2015 10:04AM

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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

The hockey gods just won't lay off of Vancouver Canucks forward Radim Vrbata.

Vrbata, 34, has been one of the most effective volume shooters in hockey this year, but he just can't buy a goal. And now it seems that the veteran forward may be a bit banged up, as he missed the club's game-day skate at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, MB on Wednesday morning, the club announced.

On its own, a player missing a game-day skate isn't much of anything to worry about. Usually the coach says it's maintenance, and we go on with our merry lives. That Vrbata's absence coincides with a roster move - the club reassigned AHL leading scorer Hunter Shinkaruk to the American Hockey League and recalled Alexandre Grenier on Wednesday - would suggest that there may be more than just maintenance going on in this case.

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How closely should the Canucks be monitoring Tyson Barrie's situation?

Thomas Drance
November 17 2015 10:25AM

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Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche are a tire fire, and it isn't just their defensive performance this season.

A budget team in a soft marketplace, the Avalanche have struggled to retain top talent in recent years; losing Paul Stastny to unrestricted free agency and Ryan O'Reilly in a lopsided trade with the Buffalo Sabres following a protracted and contentious series of contract negotiations. 

Now Matt Duchene, a top-line point producer and one of the best pure skaters in the game, is the subject of trade speculation. And defenseman Tyson Barrie's name is beginning to come up as well. Barrie is a Victoria-born defenseman and a right-handed shooter, who excels in transition. He's signed through this year and will be a restricted free agent for several seasons thereafter. If Barrie begins to shake loose though, how interested should the Canucks be?

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Canucks GM Benning doesn't expect phone call between Burrows, NHL to result in suspension

Thomas Drance
November 12 2015 04:43PM

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Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports

There may not be enough soap in the Lush warehouse to successfully clean out the mouth of Vancouver Canucks forward Alex Burrows. 

Burrows is one of the NHL's most relentless motormouths, and his jabs have been creative and extreme over the years - just ask Mike Richards or Phil Kessel. Recently though, the Canucks agitator's habit of trash talking opponents has generated headlines and controversy rather than the usual guffaws. 

In a game this past weekend, New Jersey Devils tough guy Jordin Tootoo publicly accused Burrows of crossing the line. It was reported this week that Burrows will have a meeting with the league on Friday to discuss the incident.

On Thursday, Canucks general manager Jim Benning addressed the issue during an appearance on TSN 1200 radio in Ottawa. In addition to disputing the idea that Burrows is facing some sort of formal disciplinary tribunal, Benning suggested that he expects the conversation between the league offices and the Canucks' sharp-tongued two-way winger to result in nothing more than a reminder.

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Canucks' Derek Dorsett appears to be cut in the face by Brandon Saad's skate

Thomas Drance
November 10 2015 05:58PM

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks forward Derek Dorsett is one tough costumer. So you know when he's abandoning a shift with urgency while the opponent is threatening on in-zone play, and tossing his equipment to the ice, that something is seriously amiss.

In the first period of Tuesday night's game between the Canucks and the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dorsett left the contest briefly. It appeared that he was cut by the skate of Blue Jackets winger Brandon Saad. Thankfully Dorsett returned to the bench before the end of the period.

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Chris Higgins set to return Wednesday vs. Penguins; Baertschi out

Thomas Drance
November 04 2015 12:13PM

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks will welcome reliable two-way winger Chris Higgins, who was injured in the club's very first preseason game in North Saanich back in September, back to the lineup on Wednesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"(Higgins) seems good to go," Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins told reporters on Wednsday, adding that Higgins will replace Baertschi in the lineup.

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