Detroit Red Wings (13-10-5) vs. Vancouver Canucks (13-7-6)
Rogers Arena, 7 p.m.
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Andrew Ebbett figures if he can keep his confidence on the upswing, he can keep his spot in Vancouver.
Ebbett, the diminutive centre recently promoted to the Vancouver Canucks from the AHL's Chicago Wolves, heads into Saturday's visit from the Detroit Red Wings off a three-point night against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.
He says that positive thinking is key to his game and he likes the way, in this latest stint in Vancouver, that he's meshing with fellow speedsters Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen on the Canucks' second line.
"When you're struggling [mentally], it's tough out there," said Ebbett, 30. "I don't want to go back to Chicago. I've been there, done that. I want to prove that I should be here for the rest of the year.
"I need to keep working hard. Hopefully the energy is there and the production comes from that. I'm trying to stay as positive as I can lately. If you have a bad shift, you try to erase it on the bench and start fresh. When you can string together positive shifts, it makes for fun hockey."
Ebbett has 170 NHL games under his belt. His last three-point game came March 25, 2009, when his one goal and two helpers helped the Anaheim Ducks to a 7-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. That season, he put up 32 points, including eight goals, in 48 games and saw time alongside snipers like Teemu Selanne, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry.
The fact that he's played with high-end talent had a role in him getting the first crack at filling in for an injured Ryan Kesler on Vancouver's second line this season. It lasted just two games and he was back in the minors by mid-February.
He thinks he was too conservative the first stint here this season, which, all together, lasted five games. Ebbett had 11 goals and 32 points in 37 games with Chicago.
"When you're in that top-six role, you have to take a few more chances," said Ebbett. "If I can create some 2-on-1s and some give-and-gos with guys like Mason and Jannik, it's big for the team."
Ebbett was given Friday off from practice, the off-shoot of playing three games in three days with Chicago immediately prior to the travel to catch up with the Canucks in time for the game in Columbus last Tuesday.
Defenceman Chris Tanev also missed Friday, the result of blocking a shot with his knee against Nashville. He, too, is slated to return tonight. Keith Ballard remains a scratch.
Coach Alain Vigneault said winger Zach Kassian's back was bothering him, and, after taking part in the optional morning skate, would be a game-time decision. If he can't go this evening, Tom Sestito draws back into the line-up on the fourth line and Dale Wiese moves up and takes Kassian's spot on the third unit.
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Vancouver's Andrew Ebbett (left) had a great start in his return to the Canucks alongside Mason Raymond and linemate Jannik Hansen. He's trying to keep that confidence building as Vancouver faces off against Detroit Saturday night.
Photograph by: Steve Bosch, PNG files