VANCOUVER -- Kevin Bieksa
's maintenance day is turning into a maintenance week.
The Vancouver Canucks
' top-four defenseman will miss a second-straight game Friday night against Dallas and is unlikely to play Saturday against Calgary, but is still expected back before the playoffs start in less than two weeks.
"We all know Kevin is one of the fiercest competitors in the League," associate coach Rick Bowness said after Friday's morning skate. "He battles hard every shift, so to give him a few maintenance days is the proper thing to do."
Asked if the necessary maintenance was upper or lower body-related, Bowness said: "We'll just go with the whole body. And mind. Give him a mental break, too."
There is less uncertainty about what's keeping Daniel Sedin
out of the lineup, but even more about when he might return. Vancouver's top goal scorer will miss his fifth straight game since being concussed by an elbow from Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith
, and despite a report in the Vancouver Sun in which general manager Mike Gillis said he was "hopeful" Sedin would be back by the start of the playoffs, there was no update from Bowness or teammates Friday.
Without Sedin, who leads the team with 30 goals and is second to twin brother Henrik with 67 points, the Canucks have struggled to score, winning their last two games 1-0 and compiling a 4-0-1 run despite only scoring eight goals. All of which prompted another shakeup of the forward lines going into Friday's game against a Dallas team fighting desperately to stay in the playoff picture.
Here are the rest of the expected lineups as the 47-21-9 Canucks try for their first five-game win streak since late November against a 42-30-5 Stars squad that leads the Pacific Division, but has Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Jose all within a single point after alternating losses and wins for the last six games:
- Henrik Sedin
- Maxim Lapierre
- Ryan Kesler
- David Booth
- Samuel Pahlsson
- Jannik Hansen
- Manny Malhotra
- Zack Kassian
- Christopher Tanev
- Alexander Edler
- Sami Salo
Luongo takes his turn in the Canucks' new back-and-forth goaltending rotation, and will try and build off a 38-save 1-0 shutout of Los Angeles on Monday, while Schneider, who made 43 saves in a 1-0 win over Colorado on Wednesday, is expected to play Saturday night against Calgary.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the second of consecutive 1-0 victories was that they came without regular defensemen Bieksa (maintenance), Aaron Rome
(knee) and Keith Ballard
(concussion). All but Ballard are expected back for the playoffs, and Ballard has also resumed practicing with the team.
Up front, Lapierre's move from fourth-line agitator to first-line winger with Sedin out is the biggest surprise, with a struggling Kassian going the other way. Lapierre has shown offensive flashes in the past, but knows that's not his main job playing alongside former scoring champion Henrik Sedin
"Today is a fun day and good opportunity for me, but at the end of the day I know my role is to bring some energy, be physical," Lapierre said. "Try to create some room for these two guys. They have unreal skills and I will be in front of the net. I can make some plays with the puck. But we don't want me ruining every play."
- Mike Ribeiro
- Michael Ryder
- Jamie Benn
- Tomas Vincour
- Vernon Fiddler
- Adam Burish
- Jake Dowell
- Ryan Garbutt
- Stephane Robidas
- Philip Larsen
- Trevor Daley
The biggest change from the Stars last visit to Vancouver in early March is between the pipes, with the workhorse Lehtonen expected to play in Vancouver on Friday night and again in San Jose on Saturday night. There was some thought of Bachman, who won here 5-2 back on March 6, but with so much on the line Dallas decided to stick with their unquestioned No. 1 despite the fact Lehtonen is 2-6-0 with a .881 career save percentage against the Canucks.
The Stars are still missing significant players in forwards Radek Dvorak
(ankle) and Eric Nystrom
(skate cut on leg), and defenseman Mark Fistric
(abdominal strain). But Dvorak and Fistric are skating at least and could return in San Jose Saturday -- the first part of a crucial home-and-home series with the Sharks.
Fourth line center Tom Wandell
goes from being a healthy scratch the last game to being out sick.