The Canucks held an optional skate this morning in advance of tonight's meeting against the Flames with only a handful of players choosing to take to the ice at Rogers Arena.
The key news coming out of this morning session was the team, through associate coach Rick Bowness, confirmed that both Mason Raymond and Dale Weise will be back in the lineup. Raymond has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury while Weise had missed the last six games also with a shoulder ailment.
"It's great to get back out there," said Raymond. "I had a good couple of games rest and it helped me improve."
"I took contact yesterday in practice and it responded pretty well this morning," said Weise. "I went again this morning and everything is A-OK so I'm good to go tonight."
Raymond will slide back onto a line alongside Andrew Ebbett and Zack Kassian, taking the place of Nicklas Jensen who was sent back to Chicago (AHL) yesterday. Weise will skate on a unit with Tom Sestito and Maxim Lapierre.
Steven Pinizzoto will be a healthy scratch with Weise coming back.
The rest of Vancouver's lineup will look identical to Thursday meaning defenseman Cam Barker will stay in and Cory Schneider will get his 10th consecutive start.
The other big story from an otherwise quiet morning skate was that Ryan Kesler took part in the session after missing yesterday's practice with the flu.
Kesler has missed 18 games and counting after breaking his right foot, but suggested it's only a matter of time before he gets back to game action with his foot finally all healed up.
"It felt good to be out there again," said Kesler. "Now it's just a matter of getting my wind back and feeling good out there."
Kesler wouldn't go as far as to say when his highly-anticipated return would be but did indicate he'd like to get a few games in before the start of the post-season.
"I'm itching big time," said Kesler. "It's been a tough year for me but everything happens for a reason."
"My goal is to get some games in before the playoffs and feel good about my game heading into the playoffs."
The Canucks have 11 games left in the regular season including tonight's game against Calgary.
A tale of two teams
Tonight's tilt against the Flames might seem like a terrible mismatch with Vancouver sitting atop the Northwest Division with 46 points and Calgary sitting 16 points behind the standings. Factor in the fact the Canucks have won four straight home games while the Flames are winless in their last 12 straight (0-11-1) on the road and it certainly seems like it will be no contest.
But the Canucks are quick to point out that even though the Flames might be reeling at the moment, they can't afford to take them lightly.
"You can't write any teams off in this league," said Schneider. "Every team has NHL-calibre players and they're good teams and they play with pride and energy."
Despite the fact the Flames come into tonight's game as losers of four straight overall, Canucks' associate coach Rick Bowness cautions that they're a team that won't just go quietly into the night.
"I watched their game last night [against San Jose] and man, they played hard," said Bowness. "They easily could have won that game and they went against a team that's the hottest team in the league right now in terms of victories and playing very, very well.
"They've got some good young players and they've got some good veteran players so regardless of where they are in the standings, regardless of what they've done, give them full marks for how they played last night and that's how we expect them to play tonight."
The Flames are still searching for their first win since trading away team captain Jarome Iginla.
600 helping hands
Canucks' captain Henrik Sedin will try to hit a significant milestone mark tonight as he enters the game just one assist shy of recording his 600th career NHL assist.
When he finally reaches that mark he will become the 76th player in NHL history to do so but just the sixth Swede to accomplish the feat joining Nicklas Lidstrom, Mats Sundin, Daniel Alfredsson, Borje Salming and Peter Forsberg.
Henrik is already far-and-away the franchise leader for assists all-time. His 599 assists as a Canuck is 140 more than second-place Daniel Sedin’s 459 career helpers.