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Canucks Report: Trial by fire

by Colin Hope / Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks may have their playoff passports stamped, but don't look for them to sit back and put their feet up just yet with long-standing rivals Chicago Blackhawks visiting Rogers Arena.

Trial by fire

Frank Corrado, the Canucks 5th round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, will make his NHL debut tonight, in a trial by fire facing one of the NHL's most prolific offenses, but the 20 year old defenseman from Toronto says he isn't intimated.

"You don't get too many opportunities to make a first impression in the NHL. A lot of guys dream of this so you can't be picky. There's no better way than to be thrown into the fire," Corrado said following his first skate with the Canucks.

"I know they are good team and they are going to come hard. You're going to have nerves the first game no matter who you play."

The right-handed shooting Corrado will be paired with Alex Edler, a pairing Alain Vigneault says is similar to the one that Edler started his career with six seasons ago.

"It's a little bit like when Alex first came in the league. He was playing with Sami Salo and Sami was his big brother and tonight Alex will be the big brother and hopefully he can help him along."

Corrado has seen plenty of action this season, playing nearly 100 games with the Sudbury Wolves, Kitchener Rangers and most recently the Chicago Wolves where he picked up a couple of assists in three games.

Keith Ballard will not dress due to injury Alain Vigneault called "day-to-day". The Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison unit will remain intact, while the other pairing skating together was Andrew Alberts and Cam Barker.

Higgins Returns

Chris Higgins returns to the Canucks lineup after missing the last six games with a lower body injury and says it's easier to get back into the swing of things facing a rival like the Blackhawks.

"This is Chicago - Vancouver, it's my personal favourite team to play in the league. Just from their skill level, you look at some of the guys they have on their team, they are unbelievable players so it always makes for a good atmosphere."

Higgins, who has 10 goals on the year, will play on the wing with Ryan Kesler and Derek Roy. The other forward units skating in practice had the Sedin's and Alex Burrows together, Maxim Lapierre joined by Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond with the fourth group made up of Tom Sestito, Andrew Ebbett and Zack Kassian.

Driving for Five

The Canucks need just a single point to claim their fifth consecutive Northwest division title, an achievement Alain Vigneault is especially proud of given the team's injury woes this year.

"This year, depth-wise, has been a little more challenging. The fact that Ryan Kesler has missed about 75% of the year, David Booth hasn't been there, Manny's situation and a shortened year, our depth has been really tested," Vigneault said.

"It's really amazing, in my opinion anyway, that we were able to, in such a strong conference, accomplish what we have done."

Cory Schneider will get the start for Vancouver, coming off his 33 save win against the Red Wings on Saturday night.

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