Alain Vigneault’s infamous coin decides more than starting goaltenders evidently. The coin toss was the final test for Ryan Kesler who will make his season debut for the Vancouver Canucks tonight versus Dallas Stars.
“I flipped A.V.’s coin out there on the ice and it said I was in,” joked Kesler, who hasn’t played since last April. “It’s been a long road. It’s great to finally be here so it’s very exciting for myself.”
Kesler admits “baby steps” need to be taken on the road to recovery from two offseason surgeries, one to his left shoulder and the other on his left wrist, but he said he’s back to 100% for the first time in years.
“I don’t think anybody likes being injured. Just the practice when you’re feeling one hundred percent, it’s fun again. You enjoy being out there.”
Kesler will line up on the second line between a familiar face in Chris Higgins and current team goal scoring leader, Zack Kassian, on the other side.
“I really like playing with both those guys so I’m really happy. Those two guys have been playing great and I’m going to just go out there and try to not mess it up,” said Kesler.
Kesler drawing back in is a welcome sight for Higgins, who is warming up with two goals in his last three outings.
“I really love playing with Kes, he’s an easy guy to play with," said Higgins. "I understand I really don’t know what to expect tonight it’s been a long layoff for him. We will just keep it simple in the beginning and see how well we mesh.”
Jags turns 41
The Canucks hope the only thing Jaromir Jagr lights tonight will be his birthday cake as the Stars leading scorer turns 41 today.
Containing the Czech superstar, who has 11 points through the Stars’ first 13 games, including six in his previous five, will be a point of emphasis.
“He’s been one of the best players, world-wide, for quite some time,” said Alain Vigneault. “We’re going to have our hands full tonight.”
Cory Schneider knows stopping the 14-time 30-goal scorer is a tall order.
“Even at this age, you can’t take him for granted. He’s still an elite player and it’s not so much what he can do, it’s what he can do to make his teammates better.”
Tonight marks just the 11th time Jagr has played in Vancouver.
Return of Rome
Aaron Rome, who spent three seasons as a Canuck, made his return to Rogers Arena today and his former teammates welcomed him back with some good natured ribbing.
A mystery prankster added Rome’s name to the top of the Canucks Award list which lines the walls from the locker rooms to the ice.
Henrik Sedin remains just a single point back of the Canucks franchise scoring record of 755 held by former captain and fellow Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, native Markus Naslund.
Henrik is the Canucks all-time leading scorer versus Dallas with 38 points in 42 games.