Is it time for change?

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Vancouver Canucks meet the Phoenix Coyotes tonight in Glendale, Arizona and Curtis Joseph is likely to get the nod for the desert dogs in the teams' last meeting of the regular season.

Joseph was pressed into action to start the season as the Coyotes' No. 1 goaltender after Brian Boucher was signed, sealed and groin-injured.

"Cujo" is nearing the end of his career and could be the answer to the Canucks' goaltending woes if Canucks' general manager Dave Nonis wants to pay the price.

Alex Auld has acquitted himself well as Dan Cloutier's replacement. Cloutier is unlikely to be ready during the regular season and playoffs are no time to test a goaltender on the mend.

Nonis was fond of saying this would be Cloutier's year to prove himself in the playoffs, because 29 isn't just Ken Dryden's old number - it's the age when goaltenders reach maturity these days.

If age is a factor, then 25-year-old Alex isn't "Auld" enough to have that maturity to carry the team all the time. This is his first season playing more than nine games as a Canuck. He played a career-high 53 times for the Manitoba Moose during the lockout. He's already played 39 games this season for Vancouver (21-13 and 2.78 GAA) and could reach more than 60 if he stays healthy.

So a high-profile veteran, like Joseph, needs to be acquired to spell-off Auld or back him up. If Nonis isn't going to promote 38-year-old Wade Flaherty from Manitoba, then he has to go shopping.

Joseph (21-13 and 2.73 GAA) is in his 16th season and has played for five teams, but hasn't been a Stanley Cup-winning netminder. It's the year of the dog in the Chinese calendar again - just like 1970 when the Canucks were founded and 1982 and 1994 when the Canucks made their first and second trips to the Stanley Cup finals. What better time than now to trade for "Cujo."

Though, "Olie the Goalie" might be the man that Nonis wants. The native of Johannesburg, South Africa who will suit up for Germany at the Torino Winter Olympics probably wouldn't mind finishing his career in B.C. His parents are Vancouver Islanders who live in Union Bay, north of Qualicum. Kolzig is in his 15th season with just one team, the Washington Capitals. He's 14-19 this season and no closer to a Stanley Cup.

Of course, the Canucks could try to make a deal with the devil - not New Jersey, but ex-coach Mike Keenan - for Florida Panthers' netminder Roberto Luongo. The price would be high - especially since Ed Jovanovski is heading for abdominal surgery tomorrow in Philadelphia.

Not only is Jovo-cop not going to Torino, but he won't be the convenient bait for a trade with his former team.

Whether the Canucks deal for a goaltender isn't just a question of how much room is left in the salary cap allowance, but whether Nonis begins to feel the heat from ownership.

Francesco Aquilini, who bought half of John McCaw's stake in the club and rink in 2004, is a regular at Canucks' games and the interim replacement for Stan McCammon.

Unlike McCaw, Aquilini freely circulates around the building and he doesn't want to hear complaints from season ticketholders who sense the team will have an early exit from the playoffs.


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