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."
Vancouver needs one point to clinch a fifth-straight Northwest Division title. The Blackhawks are closing in on the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top regular season team -- they can clinch it Monday with a win and a Pittsburgh Penguins loss -- and considering resting key players over their final four games.
They won't do so against the Canucks, though Chicago coach Joel Quenneville did say having the top spot in the Western Conference locked up has allowed him to "watch the minutes on our top guys," and be more patient waiting for injured players to return. Quenneville said top-six forward Patrick Sharp, who has only played two games since early March, won't come back against the Canucks, but will "very likely play" against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
As for sitting out other players, Quenneville said, "maybe towards the end we might consider that." Given the Blackhawks' often-bitter rivalry with the Canucks, it might have been tough for him to find volunteers anyway.
"It's a fun rivalry," Patrick Kane said. "And it seems go get better and better as time goes on. … It will be like a tune-up for playoffs."
Here's how the rest of the lineups are expected to look when the Canucks host the Blackhawks on Monday night at Rogers Arena:
Notes: Emery returns as the backup goalie after sitting out two games with an undisclosed lower body injury. ... Quenneville hinted Handzus might not play after the veteran stayed out long after most regulars at Monday’s morning skate. Daniel Carcillo seems likely to replace him after being scratched against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.
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