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At the Rink blog

Canucks after top spot in West, Presidents' Trophy

Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 4:27 PM

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

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At the Rink blog
Canucks after top spot in West, Presidents' Trophy
The Canucks can lock up the top spot in the in the Western Conference - and perhaps the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top team - by winning Saturday's regular-season finale against Edmonton.

Perhaps more exciting, however, are reports that top goal scorer Daniel Sedin, out since an elbow to the head from Duncan Keith on March 21, has been skating on his own. First reported by TSN's Farhan Lalji Saturday afternoon and confirmed later in a Vancouver Province story, word that Sedin has skated by himself the last few days and is expected to be ready for the playoffs puts a positive spin on his twin brother's comments a bit earlier.

"As time has moved on he's felt better," Henrik Sedin said. "But until you are on the ice and feel comfortable playing a game, [concern is] always going to be there."

Henrik said those concerns are fueled by seeing players like Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who has missed 22 games with a concussion, still out.

"For sure, those guys I'm sure after a week they thought they were going got be able to play in three or four days, and 20 games later they still haven't played," he said. "That's always going to be there until he's back."

With the absence of Daniel, and fellow top-six forward Mason Raymond away for the birth of his first child, the Canucks will shake up their forward lines again. Here's how all the lines are expected to look Saturday:

CANUCKS

Andrew EbbettHenrik SedinAlexandre Burrows
Maxim LapierreRyan KeslerDavid Booth
Chris HigginsSamuel PahlssonJannik Hansen
Manny MalhotraByron BitzZack Kassian

Dan Hamhuis – Chris Tanev
Alexander EdlerSami Salo
Andrew AlbertsAaron Rome

Roberto Luongo is back in goal after watching Cory Schneider start in Calgary on Thursday, giving Luongo one last chance to erase the memories of being pulled form his last start before the playoffs start next week.

Maxim Lapierre, who has played well since moving up from the fourth line to the first line in place of Daniel Sedin, is moving down to try and spark a struggling second line. Andrew Ebbett, playing his fourth game after missing almost three months with a broken collarbone, moves up to the first line, while AHL call-up Byron Bitz centers the fourth unit.

The only line that remains intact is the checking unit anchored by Samuel Pahlsson, which has been the team’s best trio for at least two weeks.

On the back end, Chris Tanev comes back from a maintenance day, while Marc-Andre Gragnani, who now has played enough games to become a restricted free agent instead of an unrestricted free agent, will be a healthy scratch.
 
OILERS

Teemu HartikainenRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle
Ryan JonesSam GagnerAles Hemsky
Eric BelangerShawn HorcoffRyan Smyth
Darcy HordichukChris VandeVeldeBen Eager
 
Ryan WhitneyNick Schultz
Cam BarkerJeff Petry
Andy SuttonColten Teubert
 
Devan Dubnyk starts in goal for a fourth straight game – and 12th time in the last 14 – ahead of veteran Nikolai Khabibulin
 
The Oilers are locked into 14th place in the Western Conference and another lottery pick in the NHL Draft, but coach Tom Renney made it clear they have something to play for beyond just spoiling the Canucks’ night.

“The fact we’ve had the type of season we’ve had is motivation in itself and as I explained to the guys out on the ice just now this is the first game of next year,” Renney said. “Better play that way.”

Ben Eager, who has a long history of antagonizing the Canucks during his time in Chicago and San Jose, draws back into the lineup on the fourth line.

With defensemen Ladislav Smid (neck), Theo Peckham and Corey Potter (both concussions) all still out, prospect Colten Teubert remains with the Oilers on emergency recall and gets to play his first NHL game in front of family and friends form his nearby suburban hometown of White Rock, B.C.
Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets