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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 4:20 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Sharks series blog

Canucks' 'beast' Kesler will be ready for Game 1

VANCOUVER -- Almost lost amid the shock of Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo starting the team's Stanley Cup Playoff opener Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) was the absence of center Ryan Kesler from the morning skate.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault promised there would be no more surprises before the puck drops for Game 1, insisting Kesler exercised the option on an optional practice, despite the fact every other Vancouver player took part.

"We've got him locked up in the back, we're feeding him raw meat," Vigneault said with a laugh. "The beast will be ready tonight."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.01.2013 / 3:42 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Canucks-Sharks series blog

Luongo back in goal for Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks added another twist to their season-long goaltending soap opera when the club announced Roberto Luongo will start in net when the Canucks play Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

The possibility of Luongo playing in the opener was raised when Cory Schneider missed the final two games of the regular season and stayed off the ice for five days with what the team called a "body" injury. However, Schneider skated on his own Sunday and with team since Monday and Tuesday. He said after practice Tuesday he felt good enough to play.

Instead it will be Luongo, who lost the No. 1 job two games into last year's playoffs and started this season as Schneider's backup while expecting a trade that never happened.

"It's kind of funny I'm in this situation, but at the same time I'm not surprised," Luongo said, adding he didn't learn he was starting until Wednesday morning. "The way things have been going the last year, I didn't rule it out, for sure. It's been a fun ride and it's only going to get better from here on out."

The ride won't feature Schneider on the bench. First-year pro Joe Cannata, called up from the American Hockey League when Schneider couldn't practice last week, will dress as the backup.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 4:32 PM

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

Ducks resting stars in matchup with Canucks

VANCOUVER -- The Anaheim Ducks are resting for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Vancouver Canucks are still trying to find chemistry before they start.

The Ducks will be without seven regulars when they play here Thursday, though initial plans to include captain Ryan Getzlaf among those resting may be scuttled with fellow center Nick Bonino not feeling well.

“We don't know yet, probably won’t know until game time,” Getzlaf said after the morning skate. “Either way, I’m kind of impartial to the whole thing. Sometimes its almost better to keep going as it is to rest, but the last couple of days have been good rest because I’ve been off both, so if I do play tonight it will be fine.”

With or without Getzlaf, the Ducks won’t resemble the team that clinched the Pacific Division on Monday night with a win against the Edmonton Oilers.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.24.2013 / 6:38 PM

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

Ducks will rest Selanne, Koivu on Thursday

VANCOUVER -- With nothing to gain in the regular season, the Anaheim Ducks will rest veteran forwards Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

The Ducks clinched the Pacific Division and locked themselves into the second seed in the Western Conference with a 3-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night. Anaheim finishes the season at home against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.

“You can look at it both ways, it’s a fine line,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of resting players. “I think some guys do need a rest. … But I don’t think those two guys are going to lose anything. They are by far the oldest line in the NHL, I gotta believe."

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Posted On Monday, 04.22.2013 / 4:38 PM

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

Battered on defense, Canucks give Corrado a look

VANCOUVER -- While the Chicago Blackhawks contemplate resting key players in the final week of a dominant regular season, the Vancouver Canucks are just trying to find enough healthy defensemen to make it to the end.

Frank Corrado will not only make his NHL debut for Vancouver against League-leading Chicago on Monday night, he will do so on a top-four pairing with Alexander Edler. Not bad for a 20-year-old who was playing junior 10 days ago.

Corrado's debut comes with Kevin Bieksa and Christopher Tanev -- the Canucks' only two right-shot defensemen -- both out with lower-body injuries. Keith Ballard joined them on the sidelines after tweaking his back in a fight Saturday.

Derek Joslin was the only other healthy option, but he shoots left, so the Canucks called up Corrado, who played three games with their American Hockey League affiliate after his junior season in the Ontario Hockey League ended.

"It's a combination of we're curious to see if he can play at this level and, personnel-wise, we have two options right now and one of those options is a right-handed shot," coach Alain Vigneault said. "So that's basically how he won the job."


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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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Quote of the Day

I've been so fortunate, blessed, to play a long time with some great players and be on power plays, play in some great cities and stuff. It's been fun.

— Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla on tying Dino Ciccarelli for 46th place on the NHL's all-time list with his 1,200th career point after their win vs. the Predators on Friday