VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Victor Oreskovich skated on the Canucks' fourth line with Tanner Glass and Cody Hodgson in Saturday's practice at Rogers Arena, but when asked afterwards if he is playing in Game 1 Sunday against San Jose, the 24-year-old physical forward said he doesn't know yet.
"We'll see what happens," Oreskovich told NHL.com. "Obviously I'd be real excited to play, but I haven't heard anything yet."
Oreskovich hasn't played since Game 2 against Nashville. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault used Jeff Tambellini instead of Oreskovich to replace the injured Mikael Samuelsson in Game 6 against the Predators. Samuelsson has been ruled out of Game 1, but Tambellini, whose speed allowed him to erase a breakaway opportunity for Martin Erat in Game 6, is an option.
However, it's possible (likely?) that Vigneault turns to the bigger Oreskovich, who is 6-3 and 215 pounds, to start the Western Conference Finals because the Sharks' forwards are much bigger across the board than the Predators.
"They do have a big strong team, some physical guys up front and physical guys on the back end," Oreskovich said. "I know what I have to bring if I'm in the lineup. I'd love to get that opportunity, but we'll see what happens."
If he does, chances are Oreskovich won't get much more than six or seven minutes of ice time depending on the flow of the game, especially if the Canucks are chasing the score.
Can he establish himself as a physical presence in such a short amount of time?
"It is tough because the guys are good in this League and they don't want to get hit, so finding those big hits isn't easy," Oreskovich said. "It's more about just eliminating guys out of the play, being defensively responsible and if that big hit is there it's there. You don't want to be running out of position just to get that big hit."
He does, however, want Vigneault to give him the chance to make some big hits.
"The coaches have told us all, the guys that aren't in the lineup, to be ready because you never know," Oreskovich said. "Tambellini hadn't played in a while and he came back and played in Nashville, played well and made a big play. You've got to be ready all the time."
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