Vancouver Van damned?

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

It's like they're getting pummelled in a bad martial arts movie, or they're cursed. Or both.

The way the Canucks have been Van Damned this season, it's amazing they're still anywhere near the top of the Northwest Division.

But they are. Right in the mix, despite losing Dan Cloutier for the year, Ed Jovanovski to surgery and having their captain and best player all but reduced to one leg.

"What's working for us is our team,'' said head coach Marc Crawford, whose club is also without regulars Nolan Baumgartner, Richard Park, Matt Cooke and Wade Brookbank. "You look at who you have and not who you haven't. There's no sense belabouring the points of who you're missing becase it doesn't do you any good.

"Everybody goes through points in the season where they're a little bit banged up and a little bit fatigued. You just have to find a way to be effective in each and every game.''

At 31-18-5 (before last night), they have.

"Injury-wise, we've lost a lot of key guys,'' said Todd Bertuzzi. "We've been a little bit undermanned, but we've had a lot of young guys come up from Manitoba and do an excellent job. Whenever you can get young guys coming in and giving your team a jolt it's a bonus.''

When the season began, Vancouver had its sights set on a championship - that hasn't changed.

"We expect to be one of the top seeds in the West and we expect to win a Stanley Cup this year,'' said Anson Carter. "We're not using injuries as an excuse for our club.

"There's so much pressure on us from our fans and our media and even more so inside the room, that we're not going to use it as a crutch.''


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