DEMITRA HEADS HOME
Initially projected to be out for 4-6 weeks after undergoing off-season should surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, Pavol Demitra still sits on the sidelines 12 weeks later; frustrated by setbacks, Demitra has headed to Slovakia to see a specialist he’s worked with in the past while continuing rehab with Vancouver medical staff.
Late October Demitra hit a wall when he revealed complications in his range of motion, which sidelined him indefinitely. Almost a month later, Demitra started aqua therapy to speed up the healing process and was aiming for a return late December/early January.
"It's totally painful and so hard to watch a game,” explained Demitra, nearly a month ago. “I want to help the team so bad and I know I can play a couple of more years."
"Everything is tougher. You have to be in the gym every day trying to stay in shape and about every second night you have to watch your teammates have fun as they play and try and win games. You're just sitting there at home watching and that's no fun at all.”
At 6’0” 200lbs, the Dubnica, Slovakia native recorded 20 goals and 33 assists (20-33-53) in 69 games last season with the Canucks.
Tonight for the first time in three years, one of the league’s top teams and arguably one of the game’s best forwards, return to GM Place as the Canucks host Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
"[Ovechkin’s] by far the best player in this league," said Henrik Sedin, who’s quietly climbed the NHL scoring race and now sits in third spot with 43 points, five points ahead of the flashy Ovechkin.
“When he's on, he does it all. He's big, he's strong, and he hits extremely hard. He's a great skater with a great shot."
"I love the enthusiasm he brings to the game," Vigneault said. "The compete level. I don't mind the fact he plays with an edge and has a little dirtiness in him. He's a great player who's emotionally involved in every shift of every game, and that's what you want from your players."
Washington, the highest scoring team in the NHL, lead the league in almost every offensive category, and have seven players who’ve already surpassed 20 points on the season. Ovechkin ranks third for goals with 21 (21-17-38) in 26 games.
"He is the best, though there are a few other guys who are up there," said Roberto Luongo. "He does bring a lot to the game. I enjoy the challenge of playing him."
“He’s a great player,” explained Alex Burrows. “[Ovechkin] skates really well, [has] skills, power and shoots the puck like no one else. Obviously, it’ll be fun to watch him play tonight, but we’ve got to limit his time and space so he doesn’t get on the scoreboard.”
With so much offensive firepower, the Caps don't fair quite as well with their penalty kill as it ranks 21st in the league with a rating of 78.6 per cent.
The Canucks, who still sit three points back of a playoff position, look to push past their disappointing 3-2 loss against the Anaheim Ducks and pick up two points tonight.
Although Vigneault wouldn’t give away his line up, forward Kyle Wellwood and defencemen Aaron Rome are expected to slide in and Darcy Hordichuk and Mathieu Schneider are expected to be a healthy scratches.
Puck drops at 7 PST.