Bieksa bounces back, but unsure if he’ll play

 

Vet says he doesn’t regret ‘awkward play’

 
 
 
 
Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks practices with the team Tuesday ahead of their season opener in Calgary against the Flames on October 8, 2014.
 

Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks practices with the team Tuesday ahead of their season opener in Calgary against the Flames on October 8, 2014.

Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, PNG

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Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa emerged from the team’s infirmary Tuesday and made it through a full practice, indicating he is close to playing again.

Perhaps even as soon as Wednesday’s National Hockey League curtain-raiser in Calgary.

“I’m boarding the airplane,” Bieksa said following the practice at Rogers Arena, “but there is no real need to speculate right now.”

Bieksa was injured last Thursday in Edmonton trying to avenge a hit on Canucks prospect Bo Horvat by Oilers farmhand Tyler Pitlick. He crashed into the boards when Pitlick ducked. Bieksa has no regrets — “absolutely not” — about taking a run at Pitlick, who is now in the minors.

“That was the right time,” Bieksa said. “I did pick my spot and that was the right time. It was an awkward play, a combination of me coming in a little too fast and him ducking. I felt good enough to finish the rest of the game but, as you know, when you wake up the next morning, things feel a little bit differently.

“It’s taken me a couple of days to kind of let things settle down, but I’ve been feeling stronger the last couple of days. Tomorrow will tell if everything has recovered and we’ll make the decision then.”

Bieksa skated alongside Frank Corrado, also coming off an upper-body injury, at Tuesday’s practice in what appeared to be a fourth pairing. If Bieksa does play, he’ll likely slide back in with regular partner Dan Hamhuis. A decision will be made at Wednesday morning’s skate.

“There is no need, really, to make the decision right now,” Bieksa said. “I would definitely like to play, but you also have to be smart. Playing one game and then sitting for four or five isn’t very smart and not good for the team. So there are a lot of factors to consider. It’s Game 1 and there are a lot of games the rest of the year.

“We have two days between the Calgary game and the game on Saturday (in Vancouver against Edmonton) and then we have some time after that, so that’s something we’re looking towards as well.”

Corrado, meanwhile, did not make the trip to Calgary and said he has not been cleared to play. He was injured early in the second period Sept. 29 against the Arizona Coyotes. Corrado, 21, was likely not going to make the opening-night lineup given full health and won’t be surprised if he winds up on the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets once he is cleared. He does not require waivers to go down.

“I mean, the timing of the injury is not ideal, but you have to look at it big-picture,” Corrado said. “I’m a young player. I’ve played one year of pro and it’s been up and down. You have to look at the big picture when you look at situations like this.”

Corrado has played 66 games in the AHL and 22 in the NHL. He noted that current Canucks blue-liners Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Stanton and Chris Tanev have all benefited from stints in the minors. Hamhuis appeared in 144 AHL games before becoming a full-time NHL player. Stanton played in 224 and Tanev 102.

“I’ve played 60-something AHL games and 20-something NHL games,” Corrado said. “That’s a pretty good start (to a career). It’s not like I’ve played 300 games in the AHL and only 20 in the NHL.”

epap@vancouversun.com

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Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks practices with the team Tuesday ahead of their season opener in Calgary against the Flames on October 8, 2014.
 

Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks practices with the team Tuesday ahead of their season opener in Calgary against the Flames on October 8, 2014.

Photograph by: Jenelle Schneider, PNG

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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