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Early returns from Whitney are encouraging

by Robin Brownlee
EDMONTON -- Defenseman Ryan Whitney not only leads the Edmonton Oilers in scoring with 9 points as they face the Vancouver Canucks at Rexall Place tonight, he's logging the most ice time.

Whitney has 9 assists and is averaging 26:14 of playing time per night. Those are awfully impressive numbers, considering he's coming off having offseason foot surgery and still isn't 100 percent.

"I feel pretty good," Whitney said. "The foot is coming along. When one feels good, the other kind of gets a little sore. It's about trying to find a balance between the two."

Whitney, 27, had a procedure called on osteotomy on his right foot to correct an abnormally high arch last spring. He had surgery on his left foot while playing with Pittsburgh to remedy the same condition. While he's not yet completely pain free, he's among the NHL leaders in ice time.

"Points have always kind of come in bunches for me," he said. "If I take care of the defense, the offense will come for me with how much I've been playing."

Burrows returns -- Forward Alex Burrows returns to Vancouver's lineup against the Oilers after sitting out for five months because of surgery to repair two labrum tears in his left shoulder.

Burrows, who had a career-high 35 goals and 67 points for the Canucks in 2009-10, played through problems with the shoulder to see action in all 82 regular-season games for Vancouver for the third straight season.

"He's a good player," Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff said. "He can score. He plays physical. He can be a pest out there. It's going to be up to us to try to make him a non-factor."

Around the rink -- Edmonton goaltender Jeff Deslauriers cleared waivers Tuesday morning and will report to the Oklahoma City Barons. … The Canucks have sent forward Jeff Tambellini to Manitoba of the AHL. … The Canucks are 5-0-1 at home but are last in wins and points on the road with an 0-3-1 record and have been outscored 15-7 in those games. … Roberto Luongo, who shut out New Jersey  3-0 in Vancouver on Monday, will start against Edmonton. … Vancouver is without Dan Hamhuis (bone bruise), Alexandre Bolduc (ankle) and Sami Salo (knee), but defenseman Keith Ballard returned against New Jersey after missing five games with a concussion.
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