Alex Burrows has been reunited with his old linemates, the Sedin twins, while winger Radim Vrbata has been taken off the first line with Henrik and Daniel, though not due to poor play.
That was the story today in Vancouver, where Canucks coach Willie Desjardins is hoping his team’s leading goal-scorer, Vrbata, can bring some offensive punch to a second line that hasn’t had any of late.
Vrbata was skating today with center Nick Bonino and winger Chris Higgins.
Burrows, meanwhile, is pumped to be back with the twins, with whom he enjoyed multiple productive seasons in the past. The 33-year-old has nine goals in 32 games this season, on pace to score at least 20 for the fifth time in his career. He’s already scored four more than he did all of last season, when he had just five in 49 games.
The Canucks, by the way, host the Islanders tomorrow. The last time these two teams met in Vancouver, on March 10, the Isles, minus John Tavares, went into the third period trailing 3-0 and yada, yada, yada came out with a 7-4 victory.
For Vancouver, it was arguably the lowest point of a nightmare season. Which even Canucks fans can now admit was pretty funny, given Kevin Bieksa had said only days earlier following a 6-1 loss in Dallas, “If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is.”
Reimer looks to get the Leafs back in the win column
The Toronto Maple Leafs have just one win in their last four and are heading into a back-to-back situation tonight when they visit the Winnipeg Jets. Manitoba native James Reimer, who is 6-6-0 with a 3.39 G.A.A and a .905 save percentage, is expected to get the start in goal for the Leafs. Reimer allowed three goals on 41 shots in the Maple Leafs’ 3-2 loss to the Lightning on Monday. The 26-year-old allowed four goals on 19 shots in his only start at MTS Centre last season.
Michael Hutchinson gets the start in goal for the Jets.
Canadiens at Penguins: Carey Price vs. Marc-Andre Fleury
Sabres at Rangers: Jhonas Enroth vs. Henrik Lundqvist
Flyers at Devils: Steve Mason vs. Cory Schneider
Wild at Stars: Darcy Kuemper vs. Kari Lehtonen
Blue Jackets at Coyotes: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Mike Smith
Red Wings at Canucks: Jimmy Howard vs. Ryan Miller
Blues at Sharks: Brian Elliott vs. Antti Niemi
Zack Kassian is expected to be in the lineup tonight when the Vancouver Canucks play host to the Detroit Red Wings.
It’ll be Kassian’s first game since Nov. 25. The 23-year-old was originally out with a broken finger, but was a healthy scratch for the Canucks 3-2 to loss to the L.A. Kings on Thursday.
“He’s got the physicality and size to be a power forward for us. He’s going to have to embrace that style of game,” Canucks general manager, Jim Benning, told The Vancouver Province. “That’s how he’s going to help us win.”
Kassian, who has two goals and five points in 17 games this season to go along with a minus-5 rating, is just one season removed from scoring a career-best 14 goals and 29 points in 73 games during the 2013-14 season.
Benning admitted he’s willing to listen to calls from other teams regarding the availability of the former first-round pick.
“With any young player you have to patient, but having said that, if somebody calls us, and we think we can make our team better we’re going to look at that. We’re going to talk about it,” Benning said. “That’s the case with any player.”
Injuries have forced Kassian to miss 18 games this season.
Originally the 13th overall selection of the Buffalo Sabres in 2009, Kassian has 27 goals and 55 points in 173 career games with the Sabres and Canucks.
Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll scored less than a minute apart Thursday night as the L.A. Kings edged the Vancouver Canucks 3-2.
With the win, the Kings (19-12-8) leapfrog the Canucks (21-11-3) into second place in the Pacific Division. L.A. also avoided a sixth straight road loss with the victory.
With Canucks’ defenseman Ryan Stanton in the box serving a hooking minor, Williams beat Ryan Miller over the shoulder for his ninth of the season at 17:53 of the third tying it 2-2.
Then at 18:46, Stoll netted the game-winner with his fourth of the season.
Despite being out-shot 30-10 through two periods, the Canucks held a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Alex Burrows opened the scoring 12:18 of the first with his ninth of the season.
Vancouver then took a 2-0 lead scoring on their first shot of the second period.
Radim Vrbata scored his team-leading 15th at 3:39 of the second. The Canucks had just two shots on goal in the middle frame.
Dwight King had the other Kings goal.
Jonathan Quick made 14 saves for the win. Miller stopped 37 shots in the loss.
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis expects to return from his lower body injury around the NHL all star break.
Speaking to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy Thursday night, Hamhuis, who has missed 16 games, said there’s no set date, that he is re-evaluated each day, but that “somewhere near that all star break” is where he’s targeting for a return.
The NHL all star break is Jan. 22-26.
The 31-year-old suffered the injury during the first period of the Canucks’ 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks when his right skate appeared to catch a rut in the ice in the Ducks zone.
For those who haven’t seen the play, here it is:
In 20 games this season Hamhuis has six assists and a minus-5 rating while averaging 20:36 in time on ice.