It doesn’t matter what is said post-game from either team tonight, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock already has the quote of the day.
When asked about people hating the Vancouver Canucks this morning, Hitchcock’s response was simple: "If Vancouver wants to be liked, start losing. Everybody will love you."
That’s not about to happen.
The Canucks will be in for a test tonight, however, as they go up against a Blues team that sits first in the NHL in terms of best home ice record at 17-3-2.
Vancouver will have defenceman Aaron Rome back in the line-up as they try to close out its four-game road trip on a winning note. Rome hasn’t played since injuring his hand on December 17, 2011, after blocking a shot against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He’s been medically cleared to play, so there’s nothing holding Rome back now.
“I feel good, I’ve made progress this past week quicker than maybe I thought and it feels pretty good to practice, I haven’t had any limitations, so I’m ready to go.”
Keith Ballard will be a healthy scratch tonight to make room for Rome, who gives the Canucks depth on the blueline, particularly on the power play.
“When Aaron is playing his game, he helps us in the backend with our puck movement, he’s one of our defence that likes to move it, as Don Cherry would say, easy-early and we like that with our group,” said coach Vigneault.
“He also brings a dimension to our power play, he gives us depth back there, right now because of Sami being out we have to use Alex Burrows, so we might be able to use Romer a bit on that second power play unit.
“He’s going to help us and when he’s on top of his game, he’s a good steady defenceman and that’s what we need.”
Rome’s return leaves Sami Salo and David Booth as the only injured Canucks. Salo’s status remains up in the air, while Booth, who has been medically cleared to play, has still not approached Vigneault about returning.
Coach isn’t reading anything into that.
“As a player you’ve got to feel that you’re ready and obviously if he hasn’t come to see me, it’s because he’s not ready and we respect that. When he feels that he’s ready to help this team, he’s going to come and see me and tell me he’s ready to go.”
Midway through Vancouver’s game day skate in St. Louis Thursday, Alex Edler lined up a one-timer from the blueline.
When stick and puck met, puck won and stick broke. Had he connected on what surely would have been a twine tickler, Edler would have demonstrated why he’s been selected as an NHL All-Star for the first time.
You’ll have to refer to his seven goals, and equally impressive 23 assists, for a reminder of Edler’s sensational play this season. The 25-year-old is sixth in the NHL in goals from defencemen, fourth in assists and tied with Shea Weber for third in points with 30.
Mix in the blueliner’s steady play in his own end and all-star is born.
Joining Edler in Ottawa for the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa will be Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Cody Hodgson, selected as one of 12 rookies.