Keith Ballard isn’t at the level where he’s ready for contact, but at practice Monday he leveled Maxim Lapierre.
With the Canucks forward coming in on Ballard during a drill, Ballard stepped up and sent Lapierre backwards.
This caught everyone by surprise and coach Alain Vigneault was first to question it, laughing, as he asked what he was doing. “It was just my shoulder,” Ballard replied.
Clearly the defenceman is eager to get back in the game and he might not be that far off. Although Ballard was still sporting the white ‘no contact’ helmet, he’s antsy to don a blue one like his teammates.
“Nobody is hitting me, so it’s a little unfair,” laughed Ballard, “but hopefully in the next few days I’ll have an opportunity to get more involved in practice and it’ll be full go. Right now it’s still one day at a time.”
Vigneault said post-practice Ballard has been feeling better every day and will continue following protocol before participating in a normal full contact practice.
The news gets better. Fellow defencemen currently missing time, Kevin Bieksa and Aaron Rome, skated pre-practice with Aaron Volpatti Monday and are progressing nicely.
Bieksa has missed the past three games for undisclosed reasons and Vigneault confirmed he will not be in the line-up Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.
That being said, Bieksa is scheduled to take the morning skate with the Canucks Tuesday and coach is trying to work him into one of Vancouver’s remaining regular season games.
Vigneault was jovial with the media Monday, so much so that he provided an “update” on Daniel Sedin, one that had most of us close to the panic button.
“From what I understand, there was a big setback the last couple of days, especially this morning,” said Vigneault, with a straight face. “He came in and told Bernie [head trainer Mike Burnstein] that he felt like Hank, so that’s not good,” he laughed.
“No, there’s nothing new, nothing to report.”
Henrik Sedin couldn’t provide much more of an update, other than to say Daniel was feeling “better and better” after being quite “down for a few days.”