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Canucks' reinforcements aren't ready just yet

by Kevin Woodley /

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks are close to getting several key players back, but they'll have to try to beat the hottest team in the NHL on Friday night with the same players that have lost the past five games.

Top-pair defenseman Alexander Edler and top-line wing Alexandre Burrows are both skating with the team again, but neither will return Friday against a St. Louis Blues team that won its seventh straight game the night before, a 5-0 victory over the Calgary Flames.

Edler, who is skating with a brace on the right knee he sprained Dec. 3, does not have a timeline for his return. Burrows, who broke his jaw two days earlier, isn't expected back until Jan. 18 against Calgary.

"I feel great but it's a process when you have a broken bone," Burrows said. "They normally say it takes six, seven weeks to heal fully. If it's in your foot, and there are bones around it, you can maybe go in three or four. When it's the jawbone, you have to be extra cautious."

A couple other key players were also back on the ice Friday.

Roberto Luongo worked with goalie coach Roland Melanson for the first time since injuring his ankle against the Los Angeles Kings six days earlier, in his first game back after missing three with a groin strain. Defenseman Ryan Stanton, out since spraining his ankle Dec. 17, also skated on his own before the optional morning skate.

Despite all that, the Canucks will make only one change after blowing a two-goal lead in the final 1:11 and losing 5-4 in a shootout to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. Dale Weise comes out of the press box, where he and David Booth were both healthy scratches, and will play on the fourth line in place of Benn Ferriero, who was sent back down to the American Hockey League.

The only change expected from the Blues is in goal, with Brian Elliott back after Jaroslav Halak shut out the Flames on Thursday. Elliott had started six straight before that, and has won his past seven starts.

"Our game was easier on our roster last night," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "When we were up 3-0 we were looking toward tonight and we were able to distribute ice time in the third equally through the four lines. Nobody played a lot and we have a real good energy today."

Here are the rest of the expected lines for the Blues and Canucks:


Jaden Schwartz - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Vladimir Sobotka - Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko

Brenden Morrow - Derek Roy - Chris Stewart

Magnus Paajarvi - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole - Jordan Leopold

Brian Elliott

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Adam Cracknell, Carlo Colaiacovo

Injured: Alexander Steen (concussion), Roman Polak (lower body)


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Mike Santorelli

Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Jannik Hansen

Tom Sestito - Brad Richardson - Zack Kassian

Dale Weise - Zac Dalpe - Darren Archibald

Dan Hamhuis - Christopher Tanev

Jason Garrison - Kevin Bieksa

Yannick Weber - Frank Corrado

Eddie Lack

Joacim Eriksson

Scratched: Dale Weise, David Booth

Injured: Andrew Alberts (upper body), Roberto Luongo (ankle), Ryan Stanton (ankle), Alexander Edler (knee), Alexandre Burrows (jaw), Jordan Schroeder (ankle)

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