Canucks ready and waiting for Bourque return

Posted: Monday, April 16, 2001

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Vancouver Canucks have no plans to roll out a welcome mat for Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ray Bourque.

The Avalanche upgraded Bourque's status to probable for Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series in Vancouver on Monday night. Colorado beat Vancouver 2-1 in Game 2 on Saturday night and leads the best-of-seven series 2-0.

''We know he's going to be a future Hall of Famer, but we're not going to give him any accolades,'' Vancouver coach Marc Crawford said. ''We're going to make life tough on him and we're going to continue to challenge their defense.''

Bourque missed the first two games of the series because of lower back pain. He skated in a 35-minute workout Sunday before the team left for Vancouver.

Bourque listed himself as a game-time decision.

''Raymond felt real good this morning and took part in the entire practice,'' Colorado coach Bob Hartley said. ''I talked to him a little bit, and he feels it is very probable that he will be in the lineup tomorrow. That is good news.''

Crawford said Bourque's return might be an advantage for the Canucks.

''He's a world class player and he gives them another weapon, but it could be an advantage for us because he hasn't played yet in an intense series,'' Crawford said. ''Jumping into a series midstream and having to deal with the physical nature of the series, especially if you have a bad back, can be taxing.''

Despite trailing 2-0 in the series, Vancouver has no intention of changing its game plan. The Canucks, using a lineup that includes 12 players with no playoff experience, have relied on physical forechecking and consistent pressure on the Avalanche defensemen.

''We are playing an effective brand of hockey right now and the guys are learning as they go along, and they're getting better as they go along,'' Crawford said. ''For lack of a better term, we're just going to have to stay the course.''

Vancouver hopes to gain an advantage from its home crowd, which has been waiting almost five years for a chance to cheer playoff hockey. The last playoff game in Vancouver was April 27, 1996, when Colorado beat the Canucks 3-2 to clinch the opening series 4-2.

''We're looking forward to it and I know the city of Vancouver is ready,'' said Vancouver defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who reached the Stanley Cup Finals as a rookie with Florida in 1996. ''We just have to come out hard and get the fans into it even more. Once you get them into it, it can become a really hostile environment for Colorado.''

Vancouver defenseman Scott Lachance won't play Monday. He strained his left knee in the second period of Saturday's game.

Canucks center Andrew Cassels, who missed the final six games of the regular season and both playoff games due to a sprained ankle, is doubtful for Game 3.



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