VANCOUVER - Barring another mysterious injury, bout of flu or food poisoning, the Vancouver Canucks are expected to ice the same forward lines Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks that were so effective in Monday's 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
This, of course, means Ryan Kesler will remain on right wing with Derek Roy and Chris Higgins while Max Lapierre centres the new-look third unit between Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen. Lumbering left winger Tom Sestito will remain in the lineup alongside Andrew Ebbett and Zack Kassian and the Sedins will be with usual pal Alex Burrows. Dale Weise and Steve Pinizzotto are slated to sit again.
“I liked the way our lines looked last game,” explained Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault following practice Wednesday. “Having Derek's line playing the way they did forced the opposition to pay attention to more than just Hank's line and that gave us, I thought, good looks offensively.
“I liked the physicality our third and fourth lines brought to the game and I thought our back end moved the puck really well,” added the coach. “I mean, it was going out of our zone quickly and beating the other team's forecheck. It was one of the games where we've given up the least amount of chances in a long time. I'd like to see if we can follow that up against Anaheim.”
It appears Vigneault will make one change to his blueline, however, with Derek Joslin slotting in for Cam Barker on the third pairing. Grass-green rookie Frank Corrado will again play alongside Alex Edler. Kevin Bieksa (lower body) and Keith Ballard (back) both practised with the team Wednesday, although Bieksa left the ice after 30 minutes. Bieksa and Ballard are still day-to-day, according to Vigneault.
“Kevin had a good last couple of days and he's getting close,” Vigneault said. “He skated on his own for about an hour and that was more than sufficient for the first day with the team. Ballard was much better today than yesterday.”
Joslin, 26, has dressed for 114 NHL games with the San Jose Sharks and Carolina Hurricanes and has 16 career points. He was originally a fifth-round pick of the Sharks in the 2005 NHL entry draft.
“I think I'm going to be playing with Andrew Alberts so it will be good to get a game in and let some of the guys who are a little banged up get some rest,” said Joslin, a Toronto native. “To be able to play for a Canadian team and put the Vancouver sweater on is going to be pretty thrilling for me. I look forward to it.”
WORD FOR THE WEISE: Right winger Dale Weise will watch for the second straight game and Vigneault was blunt in his assessment of the fourth-liner's play.
“Dale has had some very good games for us and he's had the opportunity to grab one of the top nine roles a couple of times,” said the coach. “His play hasn't beern consistent enough to warrant that at this time. I think he has a lot of potential. He's still a very young player, growing and we're going to need to him going forward.”
FRANKLY SPEAKING: With Frank Corrado scheduled to play again versus the Ducks, his Nonna (grandmother) will be glued to her TV set. She opted not to fly out from Toronto for the game even though she is Frank's biggest fan.
“She doesn't really like flying,” said Frank. “She was so happy with my first game. She was just thrilled. Driving me to the rink, she never thought it would amount to this so it was really nice for her to see it.”
Corrado's parents, sister and some close friends have flown out and will attend Thursday's game at Rogers Arena.
QUOTABLE: “Pick your poison. I mean, they're all great, great, great teams. Pick your poison and figure it out. Find a solution.” – Alain Vigneault when asked about possible playoff opponents.
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