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At the Rink blog

Kesler getting close

Wednesday, 10.12.2011 / 5:07 PM

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor / At the Rink blog

Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler was one of the nine skaters on the ice in Philadelphia this morning for the team's optional skate as he continues to work his way back from offseason hip surgery.

Kesler has been on the ice with the team since Oct. 5, and today marks the 10-week anniversary of the Aug. 2 surgery that repaired the labrum in his left hip. The initial recovery time was pegged for 10-12 weeks.

He's not quite ready yet, but said this morning, "I'm getting closer. It’s a matter of time."

That time could come as soon as the Canucks return home from their current four-game road trip, which would be Oct. 18 against the New York Rangers.

Kesler wouldn't commit to any date, saying, "I don't want to come in the lineup and not be at full speed, be in the best condition I can be in. That's what they have me doing."

Henrik Sedin, who was on the ice with Kesler this morning, said his teammate doesn't look too far removed from the All-Star who scored 41 goals last season.

"I don't know how he feels out there, but he looks good," Sedin said. "He's got a good stride out there, skates hard. Should be pretty close. … We'll see. It'll take some time for him to get back to game shape. We've got to give him some time."

Roberto Luongo, who also took part in this morning's skate, said he thought Kesler looked awfully good, too, but wasn't going to rush him back into the lineup.

"Health-wise I think he's feeling pretty good," Luongo told NHL.com. "With an injury like that you want to make sure you're 100 percent before you come back because it's a long season and we don't want to take any chances there."

Whenever he does return, the players know just how important Kesler is to the Canucks' success.

"We all know what he can do when he's healthy," said Sedin. "He's huge for the team, and when he comes back he'll help us big time. It's nice to see him getting closer."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the OT winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round