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Booth back in the lineup for Canucks

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- David Booth will play his first game Tuesday since last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After a preseason groin injury during on-ice testing caused him to miss the first 14 regular-season games, Booth will get back to playing games when the Vancouver Canucks face the rival Chicago Blackhawks at United Center -- a game in which the home team is vying to tie the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks for the NHL record of 16 consecutive games with at least a point earned to start a season.

"It's definitely an exciting time and an exciting game [to return]," Booth said. "I'm glad it worked out to be this game."

During Vancouver's morning skate, Booth was practicing on the fourth line alongside center Maxim Lapierre and right wing Dale Weise, giving the already-fast Canucks another jolt of speed in the bottom part of the forward mix.

"It's going to be a process, but if I can bring the strengths in my game -- my speed and that -- I think it will benefit the team," Booth said. "When you have speed and you can back up other teams' [defense], that really opens the ice for … maybe Henrik [Sedin] and Daniel {Sedin] … to do their thing. Those guys are so good with the puck, and even for us, if we can back off the [defense] it gives us a little more room to make some plays."

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said he'll take a watch-and-adjust approach to where he places Booth in the lineup after Tuesday.

"In David’s case … no training camp, a few practices with the team, working extremely hard to rehab his injury, I'm not quite sure what to expect," Vigneault said. "We'll see how he does [Tuesday] and depending on how comfortable he looks, we'll adjust his ice time as we move forward."

As for the Blackhawks' bid to tie the NHL record for consecutive games with points to start a season, Vigneault said the focus in Vancouver's locker room will be on the red-hot team wearing red -- not the record.

"We're in here to win two points," Vigneault said. "I'll talk to our players about what it takes to perform against a team that's got all parts of their game playing at top form -- from 5-on-5 play to defending. This team right now [Chicago] is the benchmark across the League. You've got to do certain things real well. One of them is manage the puck and [there are] a couple of other areas that we're going to discuss with our group prior to the game."

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