John Tortorella will be back behind the bench Monday to coach the Vancouver Canucks against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena after a 15-day suspension that saw him miss six games. The team went 2-4-0 in his absence and is 0-1-0 on its five-game road trip following a 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.
"I apologize first and foremost to the players, to the organization and to the League. It hasn't been a great two weeks," Tortorella told reporters Monday morning. "I didn't help matters for this team and we're in a tough spot right now. It's up to me to do my job and get this team back."
With a precarious hold on a playoff spot, Tortorella and the Canucks have a lot of work to do. Vancouver has lost three straight games and four of its past five, and has allowed 17 goals in its past four games. The coach's message delivered to the media was the need for tougher skin.
"We had meetings this morning. We have a long list of things we need to improve at," Tortorella said. "We need to start over on the mental side. We're off the rails on a lot of different aspects. Every aspect of our game is off. This team can and will play the right way."
The Canucks, 3-7-0 in their past 10 games, hold a one-point lead on the Phoenix Coyotes for the second and final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
"We've let a lot of teams back into the picture here," Tortorella said. "We've got a job to do and we're going to face it head on."
Canucks captain Henrik Sedin (ribs) took part in his first full practice Sunday since he was injured and skated again Monday, and will be in the lineup after missing the past six games. Playing without his twin brother, Daniel Sedin is without a point in five games and without a goal in his past 15.
Defenseman Yannick Weber (upper body) was injured Friday and will be out of the lineup. Yann Sauve, recalled Sunday from the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League, will take Weber's place. The Canucks also made a trade Monday, acquiring defenseman Raphael Diaz from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Dale Weise.
The Red Wings continue to deal with their own injury issues. Forward Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) skated Monday but will miss his 14th consecutive game. He still plans to compete for Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and hopes to get in one or two regular-season games before the break.
"I don't know," Datsyuk said. "I'm just trying to make sure I play one or two games [before]. That's my goal now. I’m not thinking about [the Olympics] now. I'm thinking about coming back to our team and helping our team."
Detroit is home to play in the second of a back-to-back following a 6-5 overtime loss Sunday to the Washington Capitals and has one win in its past four games.
Jonas Gustavsson was first goalie off ice and will start against Vancouver looking to turn it around after allowing nine goals in his previous two starts.
Here are the projected lineups for the Canucks and Red Wings:
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Zack Kassian
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
David Booth - Jordan Schroeder - Jannik Hansen
Tom Sestito - Zac Dalpe - Kellan Lain
Alexander Edler - Jason Garrison
Dan Hamhuis - Yann Sauve
Ryan Stanton - Frank Corrado
Scratched: Raphael Diaz
Injured: Andrew Alberts (upper body), Kevin Bieksa (foot), Brad Richardson (undisclosed), Mike Santorelli (shoulder), Christopher Tanev (hand), Yannick Weber (upper body)
Gustav Nyquist - Henrik Zetterberg - Justin Abdelkader
Tomas Jurco - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Tatar
Joakim Andersson - Darren Helm - Daniel Alfredsson
Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Patrick Eaves
Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall
Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser
Brian Lashoff - Jakub Kindl
Scratched: Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, Brendan Smith
Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (lower body), Johan Franzen (concussion), Stephen Weiss (sports hernia)