VANCOUVER, B.C – The Vancouver Canucks will look to get back in the win column with a visit from the Dallas Stars this afternoon at Rogers Arena. The Canucks begin a four game homestand after returning from a 1-5-0 road trip. Vancouver has been struggling of late with ten losses in eleven games. Scoring has been hard to come by, and when the Canucks have bulged the twine, the defensive game, and goalkeeping has been subpar. The Stars, Rangers, Coyotes, and Blackhawks will battle Vancouver this week and it’s hoped that some home cooking can get the likes of Loui Eriksson and the Canucks going.
The 31 year-old Eriksson, and his teammates were part of an open practice at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre on Saturday morning. The Canucks and UBC helped raise $26,917 for the UBC Men’s and Women’s hockey programs. Getting out to UBC and being able to hold practice to help give back to the UBC family was a nice change of scenery for the slumping Canucks.
“It’s tough when you’re losing like we’ve been doing,” said Eriksson. “You have to think of the other things that’s important as well. It’s definitely nice to be a part of that.”
Vancouver’s big offseason signing has started his Canucks tenure rather slowly. One goal through 15 games is surprising for a player of Eriksson’s talents, and abilities. Vancouver’s bland offense has spread through all four lines. Without Eriksson, and the Sedins regularly carrying the bulk of scoring, the Canucks offensive woes are significantly magnified.
The Gothenburg, Sweden native, was able to open his Canucks scoring account on Tuesday, in a 5-3 win against the New York Rangers. Was that goal enough to get Eriksson going and shake the proverbial monkey off his back?
“(Laughs) I think so,” admitted Eriksson. “It definitely felt good to score that one and hopefully they’ll be many more here coming.”
Eriksson will be playing against the NHL team that drafted him 33rd overall in the 2003 draft. The Dallas Stars benefited from seven productive seasons with Loui Eriksson where he put together 150 goals and 207 assists in 501 games. Starting off with a win against one of his former teams could go a long way in boosting the Canucks fragile and woeful scoring confidence.
“It’s important,” revealed Eriksson. “We know we’ve been on the road now for a bit. Coming home, we need to establish ourselves getting some more wins. We definitely need a big one tomorrow against Dallas.”
Scoring an empty net goal in his own teams net, on his Canucks debut, while awaiting a power play wasn’t how Eriksson envisioned the start to his Canucks career. Playing on a line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin should result in many more memorable goals for the Swedish trio. Positive puck luck and bounces are certainly well overdue.
“Yeah, I think we have the chemistry,” said Eriksson when asked about playing with the Sedins. “We just need some more luck. We’re getting some good chances, but we have to find a way to score those chances as well. We have to keep working, we know there’s a lot of games left in the season. Every game now is important, we try and do our best every game.”
Getting the power play going could take a lot of pressure off even strength scoring. Vancouver practiced a power play unit on Saturday featuring the Sedins, Brandon Sutter, Troy Stecher, and Eriksson. Having three forwards that like to play down low, and in front of goal takes some getting use to. Eriksson is adjusting to finding open space in the slot when the Canucks have the man advantage.
“Yeah it’s a little bit different,” said Eriksson. “I’ve always been a net front and low guy with the other teams I’ve played in. We have to find a way to find something going on the power play. It’s such a big important part of the game, and you have to have that to win games. You have to step it up there.”
Just 15 games into his six-year, $36 million dollar contract with the Vancouver Canucks. It’s far to early to write off Loui Eriksson, and his goal-scoring capabilities. Every athlete goes through an adjustment period with a new team. Once he feels more comfortable, the Canucks should have an excellent number one scoring unit.