Rick Rypien is back and just in the nick of time.
The feisty forward, who finished serving a six-game suspension Thursday night for an altercation with a fan in Minnesota on October 19, will slot back in on Vancouver’s fourth line alongside Tanner Glass and Peter Schaefer when the Canucks take on the Detroit Red Wings Saturday evening.
Rypien’s return comes at a perfect time for Vancouver as fourth-line forward Guillaume Desbiens broke his hand in a fight with Colorado’s Cody McLeod on Thursday.
As you’d expect, Rypien is itching to get back playing.
“I’m very excited, it was a long little break there so I’m excited to get back and start playing hockey,” said Rypien, who admitted he missed being around the team.
“I think just sitting out watching and just knowing that you want to be involved and be around the team and play, just that atmosphere and playing games. I’ve missed a lot of games to date and it’s time I started playing some of them.”
Dan Hamhuis, who has been day-to-day with a foot injury since October 19, skated with the Canucks Saturday morning, but will not play against Detroit.
Hamhuis testing out his foot was a big move in itself and the defenceman said that the healing process has really sped up in the last few days.
“It’s getting better quickly now," said Hamhuis. "It took a couple of weeks of not a lot of progress and now this week has been a lot better, it’s great being out there with the guys and I’m feeling close to being ready to go.”
Hamhuis is expecting to travel with the team to Montreal on Sunday and according to coach Alain Vigneault, “...he’ll take a full practice on Monday and if he continues to feel the same way he felt today, he should be able to go on Tuesday.”
Vancouver kicks off a five-game Eastern road trip Tuesday against the Canadiens and Hamhuis is crossing his fingers that he’s ready to roll.
“Sometimes you get pucks off the skate and you’re back the next game playing with a little bit of discomfort and that’s kind of what I expected when it first happened, but it took a lot longer than we thought and we did the right x-rays and some scans to see that it’s a bad bone bruise in a bad spot. It’s something that took a little more time than we originally thought, but it’s coming along now and I‘m feeling good."
Roberto Luongo returns to the net for the Canucks after Cory Schneider played Thursday in Colorado. In nine starts Luongo is 4-3-2-1 with a 2.61 goals against average, .915 save percentage and a good amount of respect for what Detroit brings to the table Saturday night.
“First of all they have a great system and they’re a very disciplined team, not only penalty-wise but systems-wise,” said Luongo. “They have a game plan, they stick to it for 60 minutes and that’s why they’re so hard to beat, they rarely make any mistakes.
Tonight's game faces off at 7:00 pm PT and can be seen on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.