VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks continue to get healthier up front, but they’ll have to wait at least one more game for their biggest return.
Mason Raymond and Dale Weise, who have been out with shoulder injuries, will be back against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, and Selke Trophy-winning center Ryan Kesler may not be far behind.
Kesler has played seven games all season, missing the start recovering from offseason wrist and shoulder surgeries only to break a bone in his foot blocking a shot two periods into his return. He played six more games before the fracture turned up in a CT scan, but the only thing keeping Kesler from playing now is a lack of conditioning after spending a month on crutches.
“It’s finally healed and it's just a matter of time for the wind to get back and for me to feel comfortable,” Kesler said after taking part in an optional morning skate Saturday. “Obviously being out there you want to play tonight, but that's not realistic. I am itching big time. It’s been a tough year for me but everything happens for a reason. … My goal is to get some games in before playoffs and feel good about my game heading into playoffs.”
Calgary arrived in town well past midnight following a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks dropped them to 0-11-1 in their past 12 road games, and the Flames did not skate on Saturday morning. They are expected to welcome back a couple fresh bodies of their own, with top defenseman Mark Giordano to rejoin them after missing the game Friday for the birth of his child, and forward Max Reinhart called up from the nearby Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League.
There was no definitive word available because no Calgary coaches were at the rink, but Reinhart, who was picked by the Flames in the third round of the 2010 NHL Draft, would be making his NHL debut in his hometown. His father, Paul, spent the final two seasons of an 11-year NHL career with the Canucks.
Here's how the lineups could look when the Canucks face the Flames at Rogers Arena:
Roman Horak – Jiri Hudler – Mike Cammalleri
Lee Stempniak – Matt Stajan – Alex Tanguay
Curtis Glencross – Mikael Backlund – Roman Cervenka
Brian McGrattan – Steve Begin – Tim Jackman
Mark Giordano – Dennis Wideman
TJ Brodie – Cory Sarich
Brett Carson – Chris Butler
Scratched: Anton Babchuk is most likely to come with Giordano’s return
Injured: Derek Smith (knee), Paul Byron (fractured hand)
Notes: Reinhart could replace Glencross in the lineup, who reportedly is questionable with a leg injury.
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins – Derek Roy – Jannik Hansen
Mason Raymond – Andrew Ebbett – Zack Kassian
Tom Sestito – Maxim Lapierre – Dale Weise
Dan Hamhuis – ?????????Jason Garrison
Alexander Edler – Kevin Bieksa
Cam Barker – Christopher Tanev
Scratched: Andrew Alberts, Steven Pinizzotto
Injured: Keith Ballard (foot fracture), David Booth (ankle surgery), Ryan Kesler (foot fracture) Manny Malhotra (eye)
Notes: Rookie left wing Nicklas Jensen, who spent most of the season playing in Sweden, was sent back to the AHL after his first two NHL games amid all the injuries up front.