The Canucks held an optional game day skate in Pittsburgh Wednesday.
D-men Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts all chose to take the ice this morning. As reported yesterday, Ballard will return to the line up against Pittsburgh, after sitting out the last four games but it remains unclear whose spot he will be taking.
"I did not expect [Ballard] to be happy about sitting out, which I'm sure he wasn't,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “But he went about his situation the right way, which is he worked real hard and had a team-first attitude.”
Ballard had previously missed five games after suffering a concussion in mid-October.
"It was hard last time I played,” Ballard told Gordon McIntyre of the Province. “Coming off the concussion I didn't feel good on the ice. It was hard to trust your instincts and be reactive."
In April 2009 Keith Ballard earned some Youtube fame when he became one of only five players to fight Sydney Crosby. According to hockeyfight.com Ballard was voted as the clear winner with 72% of the votes.
OLD TEAM MATES
Wherever Sidney Crosby goes, he’s making headlines and in his annual meeting with the Canucks, it’s no different.
This is the first time Roberto Luongo and Sidney Crosby will play against each other since winning gold together for Team Canada during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Despite the media revving up for a match-up of epic proportions, they’ll both treat the game like any other.
“I’m looking forward to it” Crosby said on the Penguins official website. “Obviously, it’s a challenge. He’s a great goalie. I have to respect him for what he’s done. But I try not to worry too much about who you’re playing against. I just try the same things and try what we worked on in practice. It’s not something you want to think about too much.
Historically, Crosby hasn’t found success against the Canucks. In the four games, he has only one point. The Canucks have won seven of their last eight meetings against the Penguins, including their last four games in Pittsburgh.
Ex-Canuck, Matt Cooke, will also play several old team mates tonight. Cooke spent nine seasons with the Canucks before signing with the Penguins in 2008 after a short stint in Washington. Cooke had a career season with Vancouver in 200.2-03 (15-27-42). In his first two seasons with the Penguins Cooke has recorded 61 points (28-33-61) and earned a Stanley Cup ring.
GAME DAY IN PITTSBURGH
The Canucks play their first game in the new CONSOL Energy Center. Both teams are coming off overtime losses earlier in the week.
On Vancouver’s side, Mikael Samuelsson played 22 games for Pittsburgh in 2003, recording two points. Dan Hamhuis had his signing rights traded to the Penguins over the summer, but chose to sign with Vancouver when he became an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
The Penguins have won four of their nine home games this season, and are 9-8-2 overall. The Canucks are 10-4-3 and have won four of ten road games.
Crosby is tied for the lead in points with 28, while Henrik Sedin comes in as the 2010 Art Ross winner and currently sits fifth with 23 points, tied with brother Daniel.
Daniel’s 12 goals puts him tied with Crosby for third in goals and Henrik leads the league with 21 assists.
It’s pretty amazing, but I guess that’s what happens when you play together for so long,” said Crosby. “They know where each other’s at all times. It’s amazing to see, but you don’t want to get caught watching. They’re going to get their chances, but it’s puck possession that’s going to be a battle within the game.
Game time in 4:00 on TSN.