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Posted On Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 4:39 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Higgins being eased into Canucks lineup

VANCOUVER – Vancouver Canucks left wing Chris Higgins is close to coming back from a minor knee strain. That return should also provide enough forward depth to help the Canucks bring back their three-line attack.

Until then, however, Vancouver will probably continue to load up their top-two lines. That means playing centers Ryan Kesler and Derek Roy together on the second unit as they try to clinch a playoff spot Saturday night with a win over a Detroit Red Wings team that needs a victory to move back into eighth place in the West.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said he would take the afternoon to decide whether to continue the two-line tactic of the past two games. Throughout the team's morning skate, Higgins skated on the third line with Roy in the middle and Jannik Hansen on the right.

Higgins huddled with the coach and trainers towards the end of practice, but said he wasn’t yet ready to play.

“We’re pretty close but it didn't feel quite right and I hadn't had a full practice with the team,” said Higgins, who has played well with trade-deadline addition Roy, getting 14 shots in three games before hurting his knee and missing three contests. “Definitely close. It just needs another day, get a full practice in.”

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Posted On Monday, 04.08.2013 / 4:06 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Canucks deal with new injury, as Tanev sits

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks will welcome Ryan Kesler back against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night after the Selke Trophy-winning center missed more than a month with a broken bone in his foot, but the injury news wasn't entirely positive after the morning skate.

Defenseman Christopher Tanev will miss the game against the Coyotes after hurting his right leg taking a hit from Calgary Flames forward Tim Jackman in the first period on Saturday night. Tanev went straight to the locker room, returned for the second period and finished the game, but wasn't on the ice with teammates on Monday morning.

"It should be more day-to-day here," coach Alain Vigneault said. "We're going to give him a day today to recuperate and see how he feels tomorrow."


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Posted On Monday, 04.08.2013 / 3:08 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kesler returns to Canucks lineup against Coyotes

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks will welcome Ryan Kesler back from a broken foot Monday when the team faces against the Phoenix Coyotes.

They're just not entirely sure what Kesler they'll get after being off skates for a month.

Kesler has played just seven games all season, missing the start recovering from offseason wrist and shoulder surgeries only to break a bone in his foot blocking a shot in his Feb 15 return. He played six more games before the fracture turned up in a CT scan, and he couldn't skate until late last week.

"I'm not exactly sure what we're going to get back, to tell you the truth," coach Alain Vigneault said. "He's been off skates for quite some time, but like they used to do in the old days, we are going to play him into shape."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 3:28 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Flames, Canucks welcome key players back Saturday

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks continue to get healthier up front, but they’ll have to wait at least one more game for their biggest return.

Mason Raymond and Dale Weise, who have been out with shoulder injuries, will be back against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, and Selke Trophy-winning center Ryan Kesler may not be far behind.

Kesler has played seven games all season, missing the start recovering from offseason wrist and shoulder surgeries only to break a bone in his foot blocking a shot two periods into his return. He played six more games before the fracture turned up in a CT scan, but the only thing keeping Kesler from playing now is a lack of conditioning after spending a month on crutches.

“It’s finally healed and it's just a matter of time for the wind to get back and for me to feel comfortable,” Kesler said after taking part in an optional morning skate Saturday. “Obviously being out there you want to play tonight, but that's not realistic. I am itching big time. It’s been a tough year for me but everything happens for a reason. … My goal is to get some games in before playoffs and feel good about my game heading into playoffs.”

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Posted On Thursday, 04.04.2013 / 4:18 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Roy in Canucks lineup, Kesler not far behind

VANCOUVER -- The cavalry is coming for the Vancouver Canucks, but for now they'll have to rely on trade-deadline acquisition Derek Roy for a boost.

Roy will make his Canucks debut against the streaking Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, but the bigger news coming out the Vancouver morning skate was the number of injured teammates who could soon join him in the lineup.

Selke Trophy-winning center Ryan Kesler highlighted the list of hurt forwards out before the rest of the team took the ice, skating for the first time since a broken bone was discovered in his foot in late February. Forwards Mason Raymond and Dale Weise, each out with a shoulder injury, also skated, as did defenseman Keith Ballard, who has been sidelined due to a fractured foot. All could be back within a week -- some maybe by the weekend -- but for now a Canucks team that has struggled to score will rely on Roy for a lift on and off the ice.

"Having a guy like Derek is hopefully going to be a big addition to the lineup and we're excited to have him," said goalie Cory Schneider, who will make his ninth straight start. "We saw a bunch of the wounded guys skating out there today, so that's always a good sign and will bring some optimism back into the room."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.28.2013 / 4:03 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Canucks' Ballard day-to-day with fractured foot

VANCOUVER -- Keith Ballard paid the price for playing forward with the Vancouver Canucks.

Moved up from defense to play third line left wing because of injuries to six forwards, Ballard will join them in the infirmary after fracturing his foot in a 1-0 shootout win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, and won’t play Thursday night against the Colorado Avalanche.

“Ballard suffered a very, very, very minor fracture to his foot last game -- not exactly sure when and how,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “If this was playoff hockey he would probably be able to suck it up and play, but considering it is quite painful right now we are going

to give him a couple of days. It’s not something that is long term, it’s day to day, very minor.”

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.26.2013 / 4:23 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Edler back for Canucks, Ballard enjoying life up front

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler will be back in the lineup Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets after serving a two-game suspension for hitting Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith behind the net.

Edler may get some unsolicited advice from fellow defenseman Keith Ballard, who will again play up front on a team missing six injured forwards.

"As soon as I switched to wing I turned my brain off and started complaining to the D-men," Ballard said with a smile. "That's what forwards do, right?"


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Posted On Tuesday, 03.19.2013 / 4:44 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Canucks call on Schneider to start against Blues

VANCOUVER -- Cory Schneider will be back in the Vancouver Canucks' goal against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET, TSN) for the first time since March 10, and he's hoping to find an early rhythm after watching Roberto Luongo play the past four games, including a 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

"You always want to see shots early but it's a double-edged sword," Schneider said. "You don't want to see breakaways right away. You want to get in a rhythm and get busy and get your feet wet because it's been eight days."

The Canucks and Blues each will welcome back an important forward when they meet at Rogers Arena.

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Posted On Monday, 03.18.2013 / 4:16 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Luongo starts again, Schroeder in Canucks' lineup

VANCOUVER -- Jordan Schroeder is back with the Vancouver Canucks and Roberto Luongo is back in goal as the Canucks try to take back the Northwest Division lead from the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

Luongo gets a fourth straight start for just the second time this season despite giving up nine goals in his last two, including three in the final period of a 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

Luongo has, however, only given up one goal in his last four starts against the Wild at Rogers Arena, and the Canucks are playing the first of back-to-back games, with Cory Schneider almost certain to start Tuesday against St. Louis.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.16.2013 / 4:04 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

White in Red Wings lineup with Quincey injured

VANCOUVER -- Detroit Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey has a fractured cheekbone and is out indefinitely after taking a puck in the face during Friday night's 3-2 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers.

Quincey is headed back to Detroit to see doctors after getting hit in the left cheek when the puck ramped up his stick in the third period.

"Sounds like he's going to need surgery," coach Mike Babcock said, adding he had "no idea" how long Quincey would be out. "I don't imagine him returning very quickly."

That means veteran defenseman Ian White, who was a healthy scratch for the eighth time in nine games Friday, will draw back into the lineup against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.

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Quote of the Day

It was a big dream. [Messi] is probably the best athlete out there, so it's a big honor, for [Kuznetzov] as well. It's maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the best player in soccer right now. I'm a big Barcelona fan and Messi fan, so it's huge. You can take [Michael] Jordan, [Mark] Messier, [Wayne] Gretzky, those kinds of [people]. It's an honor to meet. It's nice to be in that position.

— Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin told told Monumental Network after meeting soccer star Lionel Messi prior to Argentina's practice at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md. on Friday