Keith Ballard is expected back in tonight’s match up against the New Jersey Devils. Ballard has missed five games after suffering a concussion in a game against the Los Angeles Kings on October 15th.
“Keith has only had the opportunity to have one full team practice,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “But he has been on the ice the last three days, and he says he’s ready to go.”
“I’m very excited, sitting around isn’t fun, you get the itch a little bit, watching the game.”
Despite a minor setback last week Keith Ballard is ready to get his feet wet and back into game action.
Ballard’s return comes at just the right time as Dan Hamhuis remains day to day with a bruised ankle and Ryan Parent revealed today that he is suffering from a sore groin. Neither player is expected to travel with the team to Edmonton or Colorado this week.
There is good news for the offensive line though, Alain Vigneault has confirmed that Alex Burrows will return from long term injury reserve tomorrow and will play against the Edmonto Oilers. Burrows missed the first ten games of the season due to undergoing shoulder surgery over the summer.
BATTLE IN THE NET
Tonight marks the first time that Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur face each other since December 2, 2009. The two are reacquainted for the first time since winning the gold medal at the 2010 Olympic games. Brodeur started the first two games of the tournament, while Luongo played the final five, including the Gold medal final.
Luongo is 6-13-0 in his career against the Devils and 2-0 in head-to-head meetings with Brodeur since joining the Canucks. In the teams’ last meeting at the Prudential Center last season, Luongo made 27 saves on 29 shots, while Brodeur gave up five goals on 26 shots.
“The good thing is we don’t face each other much anymore,” Luongo said, referring to his five seasons with the Florida Panthers. “So once a year keeps it fresh and exciting. It’s always fun to play Marty, but at the end of the day we’re playing here to get points, and that’s just a little side note.”
Brodeur has played in all 12 Devil games this season, has a .905 SV% and a 2.78 GAA. Luongo has played in seven of his team’s nine games, and has similar stats with a .907 SV% and a 2.93 GAA. Luongo has two wins under his belt, while Brodeur has three.
DEVILS WENT DOWN TO VANCOUVER
The Devils lost their last game 3-1 to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and with only seven points (3-8-1), they are now last in the league. Vancouver stands third in the Northwest Division, with 10 points after winning in overtime against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.
“New Jersey is playing hard, they’re playing well,” said coach V. “Much better than their record indicates, so we have a tough match up.”
“It’s not going to be one of those games where we blow them out,” said Luongo. “Especially with a guy like Marty on net. There’s only one recipe for success, that’s play our game, and play it hard. We’ve had some success at home and we want to continue it, and the only way how is to come out strong.”
This is the Devil’s fourth game in six days, of which they have only won one.
New Jersey has the worst powerplay in the league, converting at just 7.7%. The Canucks are killing 83.8% of their penalties overall and an impressive 95.2% at home. They’ve given up just one goal on 21 opportunities at Rogers Arena.
The Canucks get their first game action after a six-day break and four solid practices.
“We utilized this week very well,” said coach V “We worked on individual skills, we worked on team systems, so I think our team is ready, we’re going to be in hockey mode for awhile now.”
According to Daniel Sedin, who is currently chasing a franchise record for points in consecutive games to start a season (he has nine, Tony Tanti holds the record with 11), previous success at home is not something to rely on tonight.
“Every game is a new game,” said Daniel “And I don’t think we played that good the last few games, I hope we have a better game tonight, and be more responsible defensively.”
“These are dangerous games to be a part of. We don’t see New Jersey that often, so you don’t really know what to expect. We need to be ready, that’s for sure, there’s no reason to take it lightly.”
Puck drops at Rogers Arena tonight at 7:00, Watch it live on Sportsnet or Canucks.com