VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks forward Sven Baertschi said he would have been excited about his Stanley Cup Playoff debut regardless of the situation, but making it against the Calgary Flames adds a layer of motivation.
Baertschi will make his playoff debut on second line with the Canucks facing elimination in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round on Thursday (10 p.m ET; CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports). If that's not enough motivation, Baertschi's debut comes against the team that drafted him 13th in the 2011 NHL Draft before trading him to the Canucks on March 2 for a second-round pick this summer.
Baertschi requested a trade, but was downplaying it Thursday.
"It's in the past. Today I am wearing a blue jersey, and that's all that matters to me," Baertschi said. "It's something special for any young player and I guess playing against your old team is something even more special. There's no lack of motivation for sure."
Baertschi played 66 games over parts of four seasons in Calgary and had eight goals and 20 assists before being trade to Vancouver. He played three games with the Canucks and scored his only two goals in the regular-season finale on April 11, but started the playoffs in the American Hockey League before being called up Tuesday because of injuries to forwards Brad Richardson and Alexandre Burrows.
Baertschi was a surprise scratch Tuesday in favor of seldom-used forward Brandon McMillan and rookie Linden Vey, but coach Willie Desjardins said he is hoping Baertschi can add an offensive spark for a team that has scored four goals in its three losses against the Flames in the best-of-7 series.
"I think he can. He's a real skilled player. He's got good offense," Desjardins said. "Whenever you are playing a former team it's going to motivate you. He has a lot he wants to prove. He knows the guys in the other room and he just wants to show that they maybe give up on him a little soon. I'm sure that's what he's feeling."
Burrows, who was taken to the hospital with an undisclosed injury after the morning skate on Tuesday, is still in Calgary and will not return to the series. Richardson, who missed 37 of the final 39 regular-season games with an ankle injury before returning for Game 1, was back on the ice Thursday after missing Game 4, took the warmup and was in the lineuep.lay in Game 5, the Canucks will move Shawn Matthias
to center, a role he played for a handful of games.
Here are the projected lineups:
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Jiri Hudler
Sam Bennett – Mikael Backlund – Joe Colborne
Micheal Ferland – Matt Stajan – David Jones
Brandon Bollig – Josh Jooris – Mason Raymond
Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman
TJ Brodie - Deryk Engelland
Tyler Wotherspoon - David Schlemko
Scratched: Markus Granlund, Corey Potter, Drew Shore
Injured: Ladislav Smid (upper body), Paul Byron (lower body), Mark Giordano (torn biceps tendon), Raphael Diaz (lower body), (lower body), Lance Bouma (upper body)
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Sven Baertschi - Nick Bonino - Radim Vrbata
Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Derek Dorsett
Chris Higgins - Brad Richardson - Shawn Matthias
Alexander Edler – Christopher Tanev
Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber
Luca Sbisa - Kevin Bieksa
Scratched: Linden Vey, Ryan Stanton, Brandon McMillan
Injured: Alexandre Burrows (undisclosed), Zack Kassian (back)
Status Report: Vey, who played 75 games in the regular season, has only played one in the playoffs. … Despite Burrows still being in Calgary, Desjardins offered no further update after assuring the media Wednesday the injury was “not serious.”
Who's hot: Miller made 15 saves on 15 shots in the final two periods in Game 4 in relief of Lack.