Canucks’ Kevin Bieksa optimistic ‘body injury’ won’t stop him from starting playoffs
Notebook: ‘It could be my shoulder for all you know … so I don't know why we're talking about the groin,’ key blueliner cracks
Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks is escorted off the ice by linesman Jean Morin after a fight in Game 5 of the 2010-11 Western Conference quarter-finals against the Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Arena on April 21, 2011. The veteran blueliner says he's optimistic he'll be ready to go when the Stanley Cup playoffs start next week, despite missing the last five games with an undisclosed 'body injury.'
Photograph by: Jeff Vinnick, NHLI via Getty Images
VANCOUVER — Wounded Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa said Thursday he is optimistic he'll be ready for next week's Stanley Cup playoffs and also “revealed” why he has missed five straight games, including Thursday night's encounter with the Anaheim Ducks.
“I just have a body injury right now,” he said impishly, no doubt feeding off coach Alain Vigneault's announcement Wednesday on goalie Cory Schneider.
While that was good for a laugh, the team had been saying Bieksa's ailment was actually to his lower body. With playoffs around the bend, reporters are conditioned to never accept an injury report at face value. Bieksa did miss seven games earlier in the season with groin issues.
“It could be my shoulder for all you know,” Bieksa said. “So I don't know why we're talking about the groin.”
Whatever the problem, it appears to have improved to the point where the feisty right-side defenceman will be ready to play next week, if not in Saturday's final regular-season game against the Edmonton Oilers. Bieksa has skated for three days — Tuesday on his own and then Wednesday and Thursday with the team. So far, so good.
“I feel like I'm coming along and feeling better,” said Bieksa, 31. “I don't know if I'll need one game before the playoffs. It's a matter of what's going to be best for me and for the team. Is it getting into a game to feel a little sharper? Or is it taking the extra day to make sure I'm that much healthier going into the playoffs? So it's a fine line that we're balancing.
“We'll talk it over with the trainers and coaching staff and figure that out. Then I'll let you guys know.”
He did concede he should be ready for the playoff opener, which will go either Tuesday or Wednesday next week. At minimum, Bieksa will have another four days to prepare.
“Yeah, yeah, I'm optimistic for sure,” he responded. “We're trying to do the right thing right now for a couple of guys and get everybody ready for the start of the playoffs. We're lucky that we're in the position where we've clinched our division and we're not going anywhere in the standings. So it gives the coaching staff an opportunity to do a couple of different things.”
Bieksa wasn't overly concerned about rust if he doesn't play Saturday in Edmonton.
“You always worry but, I think, for the playoffs it's a little bit different,” he explained. “There are a lot of other things to worry about and there is a lot more adrenalin. I think that definitely helps out. It's the start of a new season and, like I said, there is a lot of emotion. So, hopefully, rust is the last thing on my mind.”
In his 35 appearances this season, Bieksa has six goals, 11 points and is plus-8.
FULL HOUSE? Right-side defenceman Chris Tanev (ankle) went for a skate Thursday morning before the team's optional practice. He has missed nine games since being taken out by Calgary Flames forward Tim Jackman on April 6. If Tanev recovers sufficiently by next week, Vigneault could have 10 healthy defencemen to start the playoffs, including call-ups Frank Corrado and Derek Joslin.
Keith Ballard returned Thursday against the Ducks after missing one game with a sore back and was deployed as a fourth-line left-winger.
“It's something we're inclined to look at because of the health of our defence,” Coach Vee said prior to the Canucks-Ducks match. “If we have a defenceman who can play up front and be effective, it's something we might look at just to protect ourselves.”
NO REST FOR HIM: First-line winger Daniel Sedin doesn't feel he will need a rest before the start of the playoffs. The Canucks didn't practise last Friday or Sunday and had optionals Tuesday and Thursday morning. Daniel and brother Henrik are rarely seen on-ice during an optional.
“No, I don't need a rest,” Daniel said. “I think we've had a pretty good schedule lately. We've had some days off and stuff like that so I think we're a fresh team in here.”
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