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Canucks shift defensive pairings, start Schneider

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- Cory Schneider is over a brief battle with the flu and back in the Vancouver Canucks' net against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night.

His teammates are hoping to bounce back from a defensive effort that would be enough to make most goalies nauseous. A sick Schneider watched from the bench as Roberto Luongo was torched during an 8-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

"We were all pretty embarrassed by that game," Schneider said of the last stop on a four-game road trip. "We're not going to let that sit in our minds too long, we're going to come back and defend home ice."

They will do so without defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who injured his groin during the road trip and remains day-to-day. As one of only two natural right-side defensemen on the roster, the loss of Bieksa necessitated some juggling on the defensive pairings, and after they failed miserably against the Red Wings, there will be more Tuesday.

The switches include Jason Garrison, who has struggled at times to adjust to his new team, moving over to the right side to play with Dan Hamhuis. Christopher Tanev, the lone remaining right-shot defenseman in the lineup, will play with Alexander Edler, who also struggled with an early season move to the right, while Keith Ballard will move back to the left, swapping sides with Andrew Alberts.

Ballard has played both sides before. Like almost all left-handed defensemen, he is more comfortable on the left, and said moving across the ice to play the right side can be like playing in a mirror.

"The easiest way to put it is everything is exactly the opposite of what you are used to," Ballard said. "Every play there is, every open up, every passing lane you are looking at, the direction you are getting the puck from, is just exactly the opposite you are used to."

Ballard said sometimes switching back and forth can leave him and other defensemen thinking rather than reacting, but with time he's always been able to find his rhythm on the right side.

The problem for Canucks coach Alain Vigneault is not having the time to wait.

"That's the challenge that we have," Vigneault said. "In a 48-game schedule you don't have that luxury of giving it a little bit longer. If you try something and you see it hasn't really panned out the way you wanted it to for whatever reason, you might as well try something else and see if that can't do it for you. [Garrison] has played the right side before, he likes the left side better -- all the left-handed guys like the left side better, but tonight we're going to try him there."

Here's how the rest of the Canucks lineup is expected to look against the Coyotes on Tuesday night, including the return of forward David Booth, who missed the meltdown in Motown with the flu:

Daniel SedinHenrik SedinAlexandre Burrows

Chris HigginsRyan KeslerJannik Hansen

Mason RaymondJordan SchroederDavid Booth

Dale WeiseMaxim LapierreZack Kassian

Alexander EdlerChristopher Tanev

Dan Hamhuis – ?????????Jason Garrison

Keith BallardAndrew Alberts

Cory Schneider

Roberto Luongo

Injured: Kevin Bieksa (groin), Manny Malhotra (eye, out for season)

Scratched: Aaron Volpatti, Cam Barker

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