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Roy in Canucks lineup, Kesler not far behind

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- The cavalry is coming for the Vancouver Canucks, but for now they'll have to rely on trade-deadline acquisition Derek Roy for a boost.

Roy will make his Canucks debut against the streaking Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, but the bigger news coming out the Vancouver morning skate was the number of injured teammates who could soon join him in the lineup.

Selke Trophy-winning center Ryan Kesler highlighted the list of hurt forwards out before the rest of the team took the ice, skating for the first time since a broken bone was discovered in his foot in late February. Forwards Mason Raymond and Dale Weise, each out with a shoulder injury, also skated, as did defenseman Keith Ballard, who has been sidelined due to a fractured foot. All could be back within a week -- some maybe by the weekend -- but for now a Canucks team that has struggled to score will rely on Roy for a lift on and off the ice.

"Having a guy like Derek is hopefully going to be a big addition to the lineup and we're excited to have him," said goalie Cory Schneider, who will make his ninth straight start. "We saw a bunch of the wounded guys skating out there today, so that's always a good sign and will bring some optimism back into the room."

Kesler has played seven games this season, missing the past 17 with the fractured foot, and when he returns he's expected to anchor the second line and help a power play that has slipped to 29th in the NHL. For now, those roles will go to Roy, who was nearly a point-per-game top-line center for the Buffalo Sabres but saw his offensive role and production slip with the Dallas Stars this season.

"He's got a unique skill set, the type of player that likes a puck-possession game and plays a smart game with and without the puck, and he'll be able to helps us in all areas," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said of Roy.

The Canucks also get back Zack Kassian after missing eight games with a back injury and playing one with the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League.

The Oilers, who extended their win streak to five games when they beat the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, still won't have trade-deadline acquisition Jerred Smithson, who remains with his pregnant wife in Florida for the expected birth of their first child.

Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger wouldn't reveal whether Devan Dubnyk will play in goal in both ends of the back-to-back games, or if veteran Nikolai Khabibulin will get the start Thursday.

Here are the anticipated lineups for the Canucks and Oilers:


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Magnus Paajarvi - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky

Ryan Jones - Shawn Horcoff - Nail Yakupov

Lennart Petrell - Ryan Smyth - Mike Brown

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry

Nick Schultz - Justin Schultz

Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter

Devan Dubnyk

Nikolai Khabibulin

Injured: Eric Belanger (groin)

Scratched: Mark Fistric, Theo Peckham

Notes: Paajarvi will be a game-time decision after taking warmups because he landed "a little weird" on his knee during the 8-2 defeat of the Flames on Wednesday. ... Smithson is expected to join the Oilers in Southern California, where they play the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows

Chris Higgins - Derek Roy - Jannik Hansen

Nicklas Jensen - Maxim Lapierre - Zack Kassian

Tom Sestito - Andrew Ebbett - Steven Pinizzotto

Dan Hamhuis - Jason Garrison

Alexander Edler - Kevin Bieksa

Cam Barker - Christopher Tanev

Cory Schneider

Roberto Luongo

Injured: Mason Raymond (shoulder), Keith Ballard (foot), Dale Weise (shoulder), David Booth (ankle), Ryan Kesler (foot) Manny Malhotra (eye)

Scratched: Andrew Alberts

Notes: Kassian said he was sent down with directions from management to improve. "They stressed the things I needed to work on – on and off the ice," Kassian said. “You've got to learn from the past. On the ice just the way I was playing earlier, moving my feet and playing physical and from there that is going to create space. Off the ice just being professional, especially in a hockey market like this." … Hall of Fame forward Pavel Bure held a brief media conference at Rogers Arena after the morning skate. Still loved for his electric goal scoring but not for the way he forced a trade out of town, Bure said he was back to support the annual Canucks for Kids Telethon on Thursday and for a dinner honoring Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini on Friday. He would not comment on the possibility of having his No. 10 jersey retired, deferring to Aquilini.

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