VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks are still looking for a good option to play with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin while regular linemate Alexandre Burrows recovers from a broken jaw.
Coach John Tortorella admitted that neither Jannik Hansen nor David Booth has been effective while taking turns on that top line since Burrows was injured four games ago. Tortorella also made it clear Zack Kassian, who scored five goals in the first seven games alongside the Sedins last season, isn't going to get a turn anytime soon.
There was a lot of talk about Kassian getting a regular shot with the Sedins coming into training camp, and he did in preseason before an eight-game suspension for breaking the jaw of Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner with his stick. That included missing the first five games of the regular season, and Kassian has spent most of his time since on the third or fourth line, averaging 11:20 of ice time and sitting out as a healthy scratch once.
"I am not ready to put him in those situations when I am playing that line against probably one of their top two lines on the opposing team," Tortorella said of playing Kassian with the Sedins. "We are still in the process of trying to get Zack to process the game, not only with the puck but away from the puck. It's tough when you have to worry about pucks going in the back of your net, when players just aren't ready to read those situations. I don't feel he has learned that part of the game well enough to be put in those situations."
Tortorella has moved Ryan Kesler up to play wing with the Sedins on a loaded top line several times, but is loath to do so with Kesler playing so well as the center on a line with Mike Santorelli and Chris Higgins that has been the Canucks' best of late.
Instead the coach is counting on the Sedin twins to get themselves out of a funk that has seen them combine for one goal and three assists in four games without Burrows, refusing to blame rotating wings.
"I am not worried about them because they are such great pros," Tortorella said. "The most important adjustment is just simplify your game and get pucks to the net. They use each other so well, sometimes to a fault, and they need to get pucks to the net. We need more of that."
The Sedins are expected to start with Hansen against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. The Oilers did not practice here after a 4-2 loss at home against the Boston Bruins on Thursday but are expected to start with the same lines against the Canucks.
The big question is whether Devan Dubnyk starts again in goal one night after being pulled for giving up three goals on 18 shots in the first period, or if Jason LaBarbera, who relieved him, gets the call against a former team.
Fellow goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was one of three players to skate Friday morning, and worked hard through a tough 45-minute session, but hasn't been cleared to return after missing five games with a neck injury.
Here are the projected lineups:
David Perron – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Taylor Hall – Sam Gagner – Nail Yakupov
Jesse Joensuu – Mark Arcobello – Ales Hemsky
Luke Gazdic – Anton Lander – Ryan Jones
Andrew Ference – Philip Larsen
Nick Schultz – Justin Schultz
Anton Belov – Jeff Petry
Scratched: Martin Marincin, Corey Potter
Injured: Ilya Bryzgalov (neck), Ryan Smyth (neck), Boyd Gordon (shoulder), Richard Bachman (groin)
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Jannik Hansen
Chris Higgins – Ryan Kesler – Mike Santorelli
Zack Kassian – Brad Richardson – David Booth
Jeremy Welsh – Zac Dalpe – Dale Weise
Dan Hamhuis – Christopher Tanev ?????????
Ryan Stanton – Kevin Bieksa
Yannick Weber – Jason Garrison
Scratched: Andrew Alberts
Injured: Tom Sestito (undisclosed), Alexander Edler (knee), Alexandre Burrows (broken jaw), Jordan Schroeder (foot)