Alberts finally gets into the lineup as Bieksa injury forces Canucks to juggle D-men for Red Wings game
DETROIT, MI — Kevin Bieksa is out, and maybe David Booth too.
Bieksa hurt his groin in Friday’s win against the Nashville Predators while Booth is apparently sick, along with coaches Rollie Melanson and Darryl Williams.
Good news for two younger players. Zack Kassian gets moved up the lineup and is set to play with Mason Raymond and Jordan Schroeder if Booth sits this one out.
It’s essentially a homecoming for Kassian who lived in Windsor.
But his mom won’t be at the game.
“My mom is on vacation,” Kassian said. “She had it booked, Cabo, during the lockout so I guess she was counting us out. We weren’t going to play.”
He won’t be short on family. He has about 50 people coming, including his sister, aunt, grandma and brothers.
“I remember those days,” said Ryan Kesler, another player from the Detroit area. “They dwindle off.
“He’s going to be pumped today. Hopefully he gets his first shift in early and all those jitters go away.”
Chris Tanev is the other young player the Canucks will be leaning on. Andrew Alberts checks into the lineup, and will play on a third pairing with Keith Ballard. The ridiculously consistent Tanev moves all the way to the top pair with Dan Hamhuis.
“It’s no surprise why we were confident in putting him in the Stanley Cup final,” Vigneault said. “It’s because you know, game-in, game-out what you are going to get. You are not going to get any surprises. You are going to get a guy who makes a good first pass. Doesn’t get beat one-on-one. He might not overpower anyone, but he has a good stick. And once he gets a puck, it’s out.
“Because they are no surprises, you’re confident with what he can do on the ice.”
This will be Alberts first game of the year.
“Was I mentally prepared to sit out 17 games? Well, no. Nobody wants to sit out. I came into camp in the best shape I’ve been in,” Alberts said. “With the lockout, weird things happened. We have a lot of D here so you’re fighting for a job every night.
“It’s just how things worked out. Guys are playing well.”
Alberts spent a good chunk of the lockout working out and participating in scrimmages with other NHL players in Minnesota, including Keith Ballard.
“We were enemies actually, on different teams,” Alberts said.
Did Ballard hip check him?
“He’s too big,” Ballard said.
Vigneault said he was amazed the team had gone this long without an injury to its defence.
“That’s usually a position where you are rotating players in and out,” Vigneault said. “We have been very fortunate.
“It might be a little unfortunate for (Cam Barker) and Alberts, but that’s part of the game.”
Roberto Luongo gets the start after shutting out the Nashville Predators on Friday.
But this is a completely different challenge. The Wings have Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. You know, guys who could actually score.
“Those guys are dangerous,” Luongo said. “They can make plays out of nothing. Sometimes, just when you think you have them, they pull something out and all of a sudden they’re in alone or they are creating a scoring chance.”
Vigneault said Bieksa’s injury is day-to-day.
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