VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks are about where Willie Desjardins expected them to be 40 games into his first season as an NHL head coach.How they got to this point is another matter entirely.We started quicker than I thought we would — but then weve had some tough games lately, Desjardins said after Mondays practice at Rogers Arena. I think were probably where I thought, but I thought it would kind of be reversed. I thought wed go out a little bit slower and then be trending upwards. Now weve kind of flattened off again.The Canucks briefly led the NHL standings with a 16-6-1 mark back in late November, but are just 7-8-2 since, including back-to-back losses to the Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames that closed out a disappointing 2-3-0 homestand.Vancouver (23-14-3) sat second in the Pacific Division heading into Mondays action, but were just two points up on Calgary for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, albeit with three games in hand.I think we realize how close it is to miss the playoffs, said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. Weve done a good job of staying in moment and taking care of the points, especially in the middle half, the dog days of the season.We make sure were up for these games because we know how important the points are.The Canucks will have to be up for Tuesdays opener of a five-game road trip against the league-leading Nashville Predators, who have just three losses on home ice this season.Weve got real tough games, said Desjardins. Its going to be a battle. Every points going to be a battle (but) hopefully teams are saying the same things about us.Speaking of battle, Desjardins was asked Monday before the Canucks left for Nashville what he wants more of in the second half of the season, and that was what came to mind for a team that didnt get a single power play against in the loss to Calgary.If youre battling hard then other teams get frustrated (and) when they get frustrated they take penalties, he said. Were pushing them, but were not pushing them to the point where they get frustrated and (are) taking penalties on us. We have to get to that point.The good news for the Canucks as they prepared to meet the Predators is that Vancouver has played much better away from home this season, sporting a 12-6-2 mark with victories in Pittsburgh, Washington and St. Louis.Desjardins was at a loss to explain discrepancy with the Canucks 11-8-1 home record, but offered a few ideas.Maybe its a factor that the guys are a little more focused (on the road), he said. Maybe they think on the road its going to be a real tough game and so they are really prepared, and maybe we relax a little bit at home, I dont know. Theres a couple games at home that it wouldnt have taken much (more effort) to get wins.You always wish you had a little bit more in those games.Canucks captain Henrik Sedin couldnt explain the road success either, adding the team tries to approach each game the same.I think we try to keep it simple, he said. Its not a big difference that way. I dont know why our home record isnt as good as on the road. Weve gone into some tough buildings and weve shown before this year that we can win in those buildings.Lack of scoring was a consistent theme last season when Vancouver missed the playoffs for the first time in six years. The Canucks scored just once in the losses to Florida (3-1) and Calgary (1-0) despite directing a combined 69 shots on target — they had 77 shots attempts against the Flames — but Desjardins suggested more can be done to make life difficult on the opposition.Weve got to be harder, he said. Overall we do need more. I dont think were creating as much as we need to. We have to get better and we have to create more.Sedin agreed the Canucks have to do a better job getting to the dirty areas of the ice on a road trip that will also take them to Philadelphia, Carolina, Florida and Tampa Bay.Were not driving to the net, he said. Were not getting people there, and thats usually when (referees) are calling the penalties — when they take away a scoring chance. Its something we keep talking about, but weve got to do it in games.Teams across the league are in an almost constant search for consistency and the Canucks are no different as they approach the midway point of this campaign.But Sedin said if someone had told him back in training camp that Vancouver would have 49 points through 40 games, he would have taken it.I think if you ask anyone, its a good spot to be in for us, he said. Weve got a lot of games in hand on a lot of different teams. But we know we need to win games. Its going to be tough all the way down to the final game, but its a great spot to be in. Its fun to be a part of.Were happy, but were not satisfied.Notes: Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis (torn groin), who has been out since getting hurt on Nov. 20, continues to practice with his teammates and hopes to play at some point on the road trip. ... Vancouver goalie Ryan Miller missed Saturdays game against Calgary with an illness, but said he expects to play Tuesday in Nashville if called upon.___Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter Nike Sb Scarpe . -- Jonas Hiller is cautiously confident he has kicked his vertigo. Nike Air Presto Nere Italia . -- A 25-year-old freelance journalist from British Columbia was formally charged on Thursday with a felony, five days after she was arrested in the United States over allegations she threatened to kill her hockey player boyfriend. http://www.airforce1justdoit.it/air-presto-scontate.html . Nowitzki scored 28 points, Harris had a season-high 14 for the second straight game and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Detroit Pistons 116-106 Sunday night. Air Force 1 Just Do It Nere .C. -- The Bobcats announced theyve signed centre Justin Hamilton to a 10-day contract. Air Force 1 Bianche Sconto . Klose has a bruised pelvic bone and abdominal muscle problems but team doctors are trying to get him fit in time for the match. Bender has a hamstring injury. Germany is already without half-dozen players, due to injury or bad form.When Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz enter the octagon on January 31, 2015, it will be the most unlikely superfight anyone could have ever imagined. At the peak of the superfight matchmaking era, the former middleweight champion Silva was mentioned among former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones as possible opponents. Diaz wasnt ever mentioned. Fast forward to todays UFC, where Diaz has become one of the sports biggest draws and the once-invincible Silva is coming off off two straight losses and a career-threatening injury. For the former Strikeforce welterweight champion Diaz, who has lost two straight UFC welterweight title fights and subsequently retired after each loss, there is everything to gain from this fight - including another shot at gold. But for Silva, this fight - No. 3 of the 10-fight contract he signed in 2012 - gives Silva the opportunity to re-cement his legacy. Silvas fighting future was thrown into question when his shin snapped around the leg of middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 168 in December. "The pain was absurd. I only thought one thing: Is it over? Will I ever walk again? Am I alright?," Silva said in an appearance on Brazilian television station Rede Globo. In the octagon, it was his second consecutive loss to Weidman after a record run of 16 straight wins and 10 title defenses dating back to the start of his UFC tenure in 2006. Outside the octagon, the then 38-year-old was facing a lengthy layoff and a daunting recovery. "This will be a tough thing to overcome and come back from at his age," UFC president Dana White told reporters at the post-fight press conference on Dec. 28. "He literally left here (MGM Grand Garden Arena) and is going straight into surgery." But after less than six months of recovery, Silva (33-6) was officially cleared to begin sparring again in June. A month after that, Silva was booked in the main event for the UFCs flagship event on Super Bowl weekend. There is no doubt that "The Spider" is arguably the greatest fighter of all time, but Silva has become complacent at different points thhroughout his career, chipping away at his greatness.dddddddddddd. There have been times Silva has been too playful in the octagon with his opponents, drawing criticism from fans, other fighters and White - see his UFC 112 bout with Demian Maia. His nonchalant behaviour, and perceived lack of respect for his opponent, cost him in his first bout with Weidman. Coming off a dominating, and overly playful, knockout of UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar, Silva did more dancing and feigning injury than he did fighting against the relatively untested Weidman. As the history books show, Weidman made Silva pay, dearly. In Diaz (26-9, 1 NC), there will be no fooling around. If there is anything "The Stockton Bad Boy" is known for, its his scowl not his smile. After his last loss in 2013, Diaz said the only two matchups that could bring him back to the octagon were a rematch with St-Pierre and a date with Silva. Diaz got his wish just days after signing a three-fight contract on July 25. If that wasnt motivation enough for Silva, then Diazs plans to use him as a stepping stone definitely should be. "Id like to fight for the title," Diaz told UFC.com before the superfight was announced. "I think that would be a big deal and worth fighting for. I want fights that will lead to a title fight. Whoever is in line and whoever has the title, thats who Im going to be fighting." With a win over Silva, White told Bloody Elbow on Wednesday Diaz would earn consideration for a shot at the belt. "Nick Diaz is a very popular fighter as it is. If he comes in and beats Anderson Silva, absolutely, he could fight for a title. He is right in there. It would be a huge, huge win for him," White said. Diaz may have more to gain from the superfight, but it is Silva who has much more to lose. Having a target on your back for the better part of a decade is taxing enough, the question is will Silva return to being a predator or is it the 39-year-olds time to be the prey? "He is 100 percent healthy," White said. "He is kicking again, feels great, and is chomping at the bit to get back in the octagon." ' ' '