VANCOUVER — Next up on the Vancouver Canucks’ defence: Derek Joslin. Unless it’s Frank Corrado.
The Canucks will confirm Monday that they’ve called up Corrado, the promising 20-year-old junior, after Vancouver defenceman Keith Ballard injured his back in Saturday’s 2-1 shootout win against the visiting Detroit Red Wings.
But it is Joslin, a 26-year-old with 114 games of National Hockey League experience, who appears to be next in line to play as the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Vancouver Canucks Monday night.
“I know my role,” Joslin, recalled last week when Kevin Bieksa was injured during Vancouver’s road trip, said after Saturday’s game. “I know I’m here to fill in and I just have to be ready when my name is called.
“I’ve played pro for six years and every year you have to earn a spot. The last two years I was up in the NHL full time, but you still had to earn your spot. I have over 100 games in this league, but I’m sure the jitters will still be there.”
Corrado has zero games in the NHL — and only seven in the American Hockey League — but the Canucks may choose to throw him into the lineup to see ahead of the playoffs if their 2011 fifth-round draft pick can help them immediately.
With Bieksa and Chris Tanev (ankle) injured, the Canucks have no right-shot defencemen. Corrado shoots right, Joslin left. Corrado, a late bloomer who had an excellent world junior camp in December but was not chosen for Team Canada, has more upside than Joslin.
With his NHL experience and maturity, Joslin is probably the safer lineup choice.
But four weeks ago, the Canucks didn’t even need him on their Chicago Wolves’ roster, loaning Joslin to the Worcester Sharks for defenceman Danny Groulx.
“A lot of people don’t realize the loan thing happens one or two times a year with older players,” Joslin said. “I knew I was still Vancouver property, and they reiterated that to me when I went to Worcester and told me to stay ready. And sure enough, the call came a couple of weeks later. I’m excited to be up.”
Joslin, who has played for the San Jose Sharks and Carolina Hurricanes, had six points in 13 games for Worcester. Corrado, a strong skater who can handle the puck, had two points in three games with the AHL Wolves after finishing his Ontario League junior season in Kitchener.
MAX FACTOR: Given the chance because of injuries to play extra minutes and a bigger role this season, Max Lapierre has had a pretty quiet year for the Canucks. But he screams loudly in shootouts.
His tiebreaker against the Red Wings propelled the Canucks into the playoffs and was Lapierre’s second shootout winner this season.
“I just tried the same move as last time and got a little lucky,” Lapierre said Saturday of his backhand deke that beat goalie Jimmy Howard. “We’re just happy we clinched for a playoff spot. It’s a tough thing to do in this league. Sometimes, you think it’s simple, but it’s never simple to get in the playoffs. Every night it’s a battle in this league. We’re happy with ourselves tonight.”
INJURY UPDATE: Coach Alain Vigneault indicated that Ballard’s absence is day-to-day, although the Canucks said the same about Zack Kassian, who hurt his back during a fight in March and missed six games.
Vigneault couldn’t say after the morning skates whether Bieksa or Tanev would be healthy for the start of the playoffs next week, but winger Chris Higgins is expected to return to the lineup Monday night after missing six games with a sprained knee.
Higgins, who had the chance to play against Detroit but ruled himself out after the morning skate, is expected to rejoin Derek Roy and Jannik Hansen on a third line that showed promise before the injury.
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