The Canucks held an all hands on deck practice on Saturday in advance of Sunday's contest against the Dallas Stars and it appears as if the team will have quite a different look when they host one of the hottest teams in the NHL at Rogers Arena tomorrow night.
Jannik Hansen joined his teammates once again for the practice session and, barring any setbacks between now and puck drop tomorrow, is expected to make his return to the lineup after missing the last 10 games with a shoulder injury.
"He's a versatile guy, can play all positions, can play up and down the lineup, can play in all situations – power play and penalty killing," said Canucks head coach John Tortorella after Saturday's session. "We've missed him. He's a really good player."
Hansen's return appears to have a trickle down effect on how the rest of the lineup looks.
Hansen was skating on a unit with Kesler and Higgins, while Burrows was reunited back on the top line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Santorelli was moved down to play between Booth and Kassian while Richardson, Sestito and Welsh comprised the fourth line.
While Torts was hesitant to confirm the look of his lines for tomorrow night, the twins and Burrows were already talking about their comfort level with being back together.
"We've played a few shifts the last couple of games too," said Henrik Sedin of Burrows. "It feels like normal. He's easy to play with."
"I know what they’re all about," added Burrows. "I know how to play with them. It should be fun – give them the puck and go to the net."
Sticking with it
In their current three-game funk, the Canucks have actually out-shot their opponents by a combined 97-85 despite being out-scored by a combined 10-3 and not managing more than a single goal in each of those outings.
But even though the goals haven't been coming, the Canucks insist they're not concerned with the recent lack of production.
"I'd rather have 35-40 shots and not scoring than shooting 15-20 and not scoring," said Henrik Sedin. "We're not just throwing pucks at the net. We're getting good shots. We've had our chances.
"It's going to come. I'm sure. We're getting enough chances. I'm not worried."
Scouting the Stars
Everyone around the NHL definitely took notice on Thursday night when Tyler Seguin turned in a four-goal, five-point performance while teammate Jamie Benn had a six-point night in the Stars' 7-3 romp over the Flames. The Canucks were no exception.
"Benn and Seguin are having great years," said Henrik. "Playing them in the past, they're really godo players. We've got to have a good game."
Roberto Luongo, who will get the start tomorrow night between the pipes for the Canucks, offered up some thoughts on how to slow down the Stars' dynamic duo.
"Like any other superstar you want to limit their time and space," said Luongo. "They're going to get their chances, that goes without saying, but if we've got a guy on them it limits the time they have to make plays and take accurate shots."
12 to 600
Ryan Kesler will suit up in his 600th career regular season game on Sunday and, in the process, become just the 12th player in franchise history to suit up in 600 regular season games with the club joining a list that includes the likes of the Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Trevor Linden, Stan Smyl, Markus Naslund, Harold Snepsts, Thomas Gradin, and Mattias Ohlund.
"It is my 600th? Time flies, man," said Kesler. "I still remember my first training camp and now you look at it I think this is my 10th year here. It's been a while."
So what does Kesler remember most about November 24, 2003 in Toronto – the night he made his NHL debut?
"Just the butterflies, the way I felt, who I was facing up against, the chances I got in the game. It was pretty incredible."
Kesler isn't the only Canuck this season that's expected to join the 600-games club with the franchise. Alex Burrows currently sits at 578 career games played with Vancouver and, barring injury, is expected to appear in his 600th career NHL game on January 4 in Los Angeles.