Pavol Demitra, sidelined by shoulder injury sustained during last season’s playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks, returned to practice today for the first time this season.
“It’s been a disappointing year for me,” explained Demitra. “I just want to get healthy and play as soon as possible. It’s been a long six – seven months just working out and biking. Finally, I had a decent practice. I can shoot on the goalie and skate and get a little sweat.”
Demitra, 34, underwent off season shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and was initially projected to be out from 4-6 weeks. After a setback in his range of motion, Demitra took new approaches to speed up the recovery process, such as aqua therapy in November before heading to Slovakia to seek out a specialist.
Demitra who returned to Vancouver yesterday, spent two weeks in Slovakia with the same specialist he’s worked alongside for the past eight summers. Together the two worked on acupuncture techniques and special methods to loosen up Demitra’s stalled shoulder.
“I’m feeling very good,” said Demitra. “My movement is back to almost normal where I can play but there’s still a little bit of pain there. I’ve brought a lot of things [back] from Slovakia that’s supposed to help my shoulder.”
Demitra is hopeful he’ll be ready to suit up in 3-4 weeks, provided no further setbacks occur.
“So far everything feels exactly how it’s supposed to feel. I’m just glad everything’s going in the right way now. [I] just have to be careful. You don’t want to overdo it and you don’t want to tweak it again.”
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.
GAME DAY NOTES
Tonight the Canucks face off against the fourth best team in the western conference, the Nashville Predators. Wrapping up their Canadian road trip before heading home, the Preds boast an impressive 7-1-2 record in their last ten games. Meanwhile the Canucks, coming off a disappointing 3-1 loss against the St. Louis blues Sunday night, are 20-16-0 sitting in tenth place in the western conference, one point back of the eight place Detroit Red Wings.
“We need this one pretty bad here before the break,” said Roberto Luongo. “We want to end on a good note before we head into Christmas. They’re playing really well. They’re playing some solid hockey and they don’t seem to be making many mistakes right now. Pretty well-rounded team and…we’ve got to make sure we play a pretty strong game.”
This is the second of four meetings between the two teams. In their first matchup on Dec 8th the Predators defeated the Canucks by a score of 4-2.
Only a handful of players were on the ice this morning for the teams’ game day skate. Sami Salo returned after missing yesterday’s practice as well as Pavol Demitra, both goaltenders, Darcy Hordichuk, Shane O’Brien, Alex Edler, and Aaron Rome.
Alex Edler, who sustained an upper body injury after being checked into the sideboards by Predators’ defenceman Shea Weber, has missed the last six games, but there may be a “slight chance” he will draw into the line up according to Vigneault.
“At the end of the day, he’s as healthy as he’s going to be,” explained Vigneault. “He had a morning skate [and] he feels pretty good right now.”
Sami Salo, who took a shot off the left leg Sunday night, and Ryan Johnson, who blocked a shot, are both expected to suit up.
Pucks drops at 7:30 PST.