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Torres anxious to return to Canucks' lineup

by Dhiren Mahiban
VANCOUVER -- With Vancouver and Chicago exchanging a total of 153 hits through the first two games of their best-of-seven series, it's fair to say suspended Canucks winger Raffi Torres has been licking his chops to get back into the lineup.

Torres will do so Sunday night when the series resumes at the United Center for Game 3, which the Canucks lead 2-0.

"I'm very excited," Torres said as the team prepared to board a flight from Vancouver bound for Chicago on Saturday morning. "It's been a fun two games, the boys have been playing great, but just watching on the outskirts there -- I can't wait to get in."

The Canucks winger will return after sitting out the first two games of the series as a result of a suspension. Torres was given a four-game suspension for his hit on Edmonton Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle in Game 80 of the regular season.

Torres stayed away from the team Friday morning recovering from the flu, but watched the Canucks' 4-3 win at Rogers Arena. Torres played much of the season on the wing with Manny Malhotra and Jannik Hansen; however, since Malhotra suffered a season ending eye injury, and Torres was suspended the team's third line has had quite a different look.

Vancouver's third lined included Tanner Glass, Cody Hodgson and Jannik Hansen in Game 2. Torres is uncertain of whether he'll assume his third-line duties in Game 3.

"The main thing is not to lose my head out there," Torres said. "If the hit's there I'll throw the hit, but I don't want to be running out of position. It's been about nine or10 days since I last played, so at the end of the day you want to be sound positionally."

The 29-year-old admits the suspension he received for his hit on Eberle had him thinking about the way he plays his game.

"That's a play that not too many guys in the League do, trying to catch guys with their head down in their zone," he said. "You do have to leave your position in order to get a hit, so I've thought about it a little bit. I'll try to be a little bit more wiser about when I make that play.

"I'm going to be throwing the body out there. At the end of the day, I'm sure (the refs) know they got to keep an extra eye on me just to see what I do."

The Canucks, who averaged 26 hits per game during the regular season, have out-hit the Blackhawks 92-61 through the first two games and are happy to have Torres’ grittiness back in the lineup.

"He's been a force for us all year," said captain Henrik Sedin. "The way he plays, the big hits and everything. He's been deep in the playoffs before, he knows what it takes and he's going to be a key for us."

The situation is not as clear with Mikael Samuelsson. The Canucks' winger was a late scratch from Game 2 on Friday night when the team said he was sick.

However, anyone who watched the team practice on Thursday morning saw Samuelsson run into a teammate on the ice, and was subsequently laboring on the ice afterward.

The 34-year-old missed six games at the end of March with what the team would only call a lower-body injury.

Samuelsson was seen at the rink on Friday morning when the team held an optional practice, but he did not skate. Samuelsson was with the team Saturday as they left for Chicago.

The former Detroit Red Wings forward had an assist while playing 19:38 in 26 shifts in Game 1 on Wednesday.
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