It wasn’t long after Mason Raymond suffered a vertebrae compression fracture in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final that the Vancouver Canucks forward glanced upon the horizon at the road ahead.
He thought about it in the hospital. He thought about it while on bed rest. He thought about it as he slowly made his way around in a brace covering his torso. He thought about it when he was cleared for workouts. He thought about it when he resumed skating. He thought about it Wednesday, when coach Alain Vigneault revealed that the 26-year-old will make his season debut against the Nashville Predators Thursday.
“I’ve come a long way,” said Raymond. "You go from lying in bed for a week not even barely moving and being in a brace for a few months. Did I know that I’d be here playing at this time? I don’t know, it might have been Christmas or January, but it’s been a long process.”
With a better understanding of the injury and how lucky he is to be playing hockey again, let alone walking, Raymond said he’s blessed to be back. His outlook has changed and now his focus must as well. Getting back was the main goal and now that he’s achieved it, the time has come for Raymond to rediscover Raymond.
How long that will take is anyone’s guess. Ryan Kesler, who had just two goals in his first 13 games back this season, took a while to heat up and he’s now got seven points during a five-game point streak (3-4-7). Sidney Crosby, on the other hand, has 11 points (2-9-11) in five games back. He’s had at least a pair in every outing but one.
Raymond is hoping to land somewhere in the middle of those two returns.
“That’s a good question, I don’t know,” Raymond said responding to how effective he’ll be on the ice.
“I’ve got to get into some game action to feel what that’s like, but I hope I can jump in and contribute and play close to where I can play right away. Again, I haven’t had a training camp, I haven’t played a game since June 13th, so it’ll take some time, but I’ve progressed well, worked hard and hopefully I’ve done a lot now off the ice that will help me on the ice.”
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TWO GREAT GOALIES
Joining Raymond on the ice Thursday night will be Cory Schneider, who will start his seventh consecutive game. Schneider confirmed this himself following a 40-minute practice at Rogers Arena and naturally, the media surrounded Roberto Luongo minutes later.
Luongo, clearing the air, addressed Vancouver’s “goalie controversy.”
“I know this is a big story, but I don’t want to keep addressing it everyday,” said Luongo. “I appreciate the appetite for it, but I’m a team guy, I’m behind Cory, we’re winning games, all is good. I’ll be ready to go when it’s my turn and that’s the bottom line. It’s all about the team; I’ve said that before. It’s not about me, it’s not about Cory, it’s about the Canucks winning games and right now we’re winning games.”
Luongo hasn’t been told when he’ll start next as the Canucks move to a game-by-game basis for their starting netminder for the time being. And that's just fine with Luongo.
“We’ve got two great goalies here, we both can play, we’re both #1’s, obviously Cory is playing unreal right now and we’re winning games.”
THIS AND THAT...
-Sami Salo will be re-evaluated Thursday. He tweaked his groin Tuesday in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. “Sami came in today better and we decided to give him a day off and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” said Vigneault.
-Quote of the day: “I talked to you guys yesterday” – David Booth, being hilarious. I think he’s finally realized what it means to play hockey in Vancouver, aka answering the same questions again and again and again. Annnnd again. And yes, he answered the same ones today that he did last night. How is he feeling about his game, you ask? “I just think it’s coming along everyday,” said Booth. Coming to the rink and working on different assets of my game and everyday it’s just getting a little bit better and I’m starting to feel it a little bit more.”
-Coach Vigneault is no different than you or I, he too is excited to have Raymond back in the line-up. “We’re very happy that he’s able to come back and contribute, that was a real serious injury, he put in a lot of time and a lot of effort to get himself healthy, get himself back in condition, get himself ready to come and help our team. He’s been waiting now for a couple of games and we feel tomorrow is the right game to put him in and hopefully he’ll be able to do well.”
-Quote of the day II: “No, this is always a bundle of joy, everyday” – Vigneault, when asked if dealing with the media can be a headache.