By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
Bring up the Canucks in the Winnipeg Jets dressing room and you have yourself a little disparity. While one player grew up an avid fan, another will tell you he downright doesn’t like them.
“I have to say I don’t really like them,” said Michael Frolik, who has seen more than his fair share of the Canucks, especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in his days as a Chicago Blackhawk. “They are tough to play against, they are a hard team. From what I remember, we had some tough battles against them and they were always hard.”
Andrew Ladd, although having played some pretty intense games against Vancouver himself, grew up a Canucks fan. Being that he is from Maple Ridge, B.C., it is understandable, but Ladd says things change.
“(I) grew up a Canucks fan until I was pretty much in the league,” he said, “but then you start your new loyalties.”
Maybe the more interesting side story with be the return of Dustin Byfuglien to a familiar perch in front of the Canucks goal.
Big Buff, as his fans and teammates affectionately refer to him as, terrorized netminder Roberto Luongo in a fierce Western Conference Semi-Finals series back in 2010. While it remains to be seen if Luongo gets the nod for the Canucks, Byfuglien admits he is still getting used to the new position.
“I don’t know if I am really comfortable yet but (it’s) getting there,” said Byfuglien. “Every game, playing with the same line mates helps and getting to know where they go. It’s better.
“It’s forward, it’s a job. It is something that I got to do.”
Maurice took issue with the word “experiment” when it came to Dustin Byfuglien up on forward. Maurice referred to Buff as “such a body of work at both positions.” Maurice said that Byfuglien is engaged and doesn’t feel that his hybrid player is looking to get back on defence as soon as possible.
“I like the way he is playing,” explained Maurice. “Until he makes us a better team by going on defence, then he stays there.”
Maurice was more concerned about the threat Vancouver poses. The man with a 6-2 record as the Jets skipper says that, despite Vancouver’s recent struggles — including blowing a 2-0 lead to fall 5-2 last night to the Blackhawks — the Canucks should never be taken lightly.
“It would be a mistake to think that you’re finding weaknesses in Vancouver’s game because of what Chicago did to them,” said Maurice.
Scott’s Scribbles: Blake Wheeler missed practice on Thursday but Maurice said that Wheeler will be a player on Friday night against Vancouver…Eric O’Dell is a new father and missed Thursday’s practice due to the birth of his daughter. Maurice says he is unsure when O’Dell will rejoin the team.