Canucks’ Chris Higgins likely back for Kings. David Booth? That’s another story
Notebook: Ailing winger gives props, and maybe dinner, to flexible defenceman Keith Ballard
LOS ANGELES — Finally, some good news on the injury front for the Vancouver Canucks.
Winger Chris Higgins hopes he’ll be OK to play Saturday afternoon against the Los Angeles Kings (1 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific, Team 1040). Higgins missed Thursday’s game in Phoenix after his back seized up at the morning game-day skate. But he felt well enough to skate Friday afternoon with a handful of other Canucks and said he expects to play Saturday.
“I felt pretty good today so I think there’s a pretty good chance I will play (Saturday),” Higgins said.
He’s never had back issues and Higgins said he felt fine until he stepped onto the ice at Jobing.com Arena for Thursday morning’s skate. After only a few strides his back began to tighten up.
“I maybe made it three times around and it just tightened up to the point where I couldn’t really function any more so I had to get off the ice,” he said. “I have never really had any problems with my back before so it was kind of a weird thing for me. It was kind of a strange thing.”
Higgins’ absence left the Canucks with just 11 healthy forwards and meant that defenceman Keith Ballard had to move up and play on the wing.
“You feel bad when you have guys playing out of position,” Higgins said. “I think he did a pretty admirable job of filling in. A defenceman playing forward, you gain a lot of respect in my book for being able to do that and contribute to a win. Keith says I have to buy him dinner to get back in the lineup.”
UNDER THE KNIFE: Of course, the news was not all good Friday. General manager Mike Gillis disclosed that winger David Booth had surgery Friday on his injured ankle and is gone until at least the playoffs.
Most of the Canucks had the day off Friday and coach Alain Vigneault was not made available for interviews, so there was no update on the status of winger Steve Pinizzotto.
Pinizzotto was left behind in Vancouver on Wednesday with what Vigneault described as an illness. Vigneault had suggested Thursday that Pinizzotto could join the team in Los Angeles, but the fact Pinizzotto did not skate on Friday with the likes of Andrew Alberts, Tom Sestito, Cam Barker and Higgins probably indicates he won’t be in Saturday’s lineup.
FOOT IN MOUTH: Defenceman Chris Tanev hit the ice for a very short skate Friday. Wearing sweats, Tanev appeared to be testing his right foot. And he wasn’t saying much afterward.
“Just a little maintenance,” Tanev said. “I’m all right and I should be good to go.”
Tanev opened scoring with his second NHL goal in Thursday’s 2-1 win against the Coyotes. He couldn’t believe all the space he had in the slot when Mason Raymond found him with a nice drop pass.
“Mase gave me the puck and I looked up and (Mike) Smith was really deep in his net, too,” Tanev said. “I was more surprised that he was so deep in his net. Just a good shot and I happened to beat him.”
ON VACATION: Roberto Luongo said he hadn’t been told who was starting in goal Saturday against the Kings, but is assuming it will be Cory Schneider.
“Why would I be playing? Schneids is standing on his head right now,” Luongo said.
That means Luongo would likely play Sunday evening in Denver, where the Canucks finish off back-to-back games on the road.
“You are asking the wrong guy, man,” he said. “I just play the game.”
Luongo also cracked wise when it was noted that thecstyle name ="Bold"/>Uncle Jimmy,” Luongo said of Strombone.
NO BIG DEAL: Winger Andrew Gordon figures to get his second start with the Canucks on Saturday and should be more rested than he was for his Thursday debut.
But Gordon said flying into Phoenix from Chicago the day of the game really wasn’t that big a deal.
“In the minors a lot of time you are hopping on a bus and driving for three hours, four hours and you get out and play and no one expects you to take a stride off, no one expects you to slow down,” Gordon said. “So that’s the mentality I had coming in. You are a hockey player and this is what you have got to deal with when you get called up and sent down ... it’s just part of the game.”
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