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Young guys will be key for Canucks

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A few years ago, when the Vancouver Canucks were still riding high, it wasn’t hard to find a bargain on their roster.

Just to name four…

—- Alex Burrows was making peanuts while racking up goals with the Sedin twins.

—- Christian Ehrhoff and Alex Edler were a pair of inexpensive defensemen, at least relative to their sizable offensive contributions.

—- Cory Schneider was stellar backing up Roberto Luongo, and he was doing it for just north of the league minimum.

But those days are gone now. Burrows and Edler have since signed bigger contracts with the Canucks; Ehrhoff and Schneider have moved on to new teams.

All of which is why Vancouver — no longer flying very high — is desperate for new bargains to emerge in 2013-14.

If they’re going to emerge, it’s most likely they’ll come in the form of youngsters. Zack Kassian’s cap hit is still just $870,000; Jordan Schroeder’s is only $600,000. Prospects with an opportunity to make the club out of training camp include defenseman Frank Corrado and forwards Brendan Gaunce, Bo Horvat, Nicklas Jensen, and Kellan Lain. And, of course, there will also be a new backup for Luongo — probably either Eddie Lack or Joacim Eriksson.

“I think we’re at that stage where we have a very good team that is a veteran team, so those (younger) guys are going to play with good players, they’re not going to be exposed,” said general manager Mike Gillis.

“I would like to have spots available for those guys to compete for.”

For new coach John Tortorella — who had plenty of success developing youngsters with the New York Rangers — Kassian is a particularly intriguing project.

“I’ve seen him play for Buffalo and he didn’t play a lot, but I’ve done a lot of reading and asking what he’s about and everything that comes back to me is that there are a lot of things there — as far as his toughness and hands,” Tortorella said.

“Do I know where he’s at with our team? I don’t. We need to get to camp and I’m hoping the consistency stays with him and forces me to put him in spots that’s going to really help our team. He’s going to make those decisions for me. But he’s really interesting to me, just from the number of conversations I’ve had about him.”

Add it up and Gillis is certainly right when he says, “It’s going to be an interesting camp.”

More Canucks day on PHT:

Agent: KHL teams interested in Tanev

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”