Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo is expected to return to the line-up tomorrow against the Oilers following a six-game absence that saw the Canucks go 3-2-1 and uncharacteristically struggle on the power play.
Salo has been out with a concussion since being clipped by Boston’s Marchand on Jan. 7. The Boston forward earned a five-game suspension for the hit.
Without Salo, Vancouver’s formidable first-unit power play – typically comprised of Salo and Alex Edler on the points with the Sedins and Ryan Kesler up front – scored just once in 21 tries. Alex Burrows tried to fill in on the left point, with little success.
Far from just a power-play specialist, Salo was even compared to one of the all-time greats by Canucks forward Chris Higgins.
“The little things [Nicklas] Lidstrom does that makes him so effective, Sami does all those things just as well as Lidstrom does,” Higgins said, as reported by The Province. “Sami never makes many thunderous bodychecks because his gap is so good he forces the guys he’s defending against to get rid of the puck before they want to.
“He almost never makes a mistake, it’s pretty impressive. He’s one of the best defensemen in the league.”
You’ll excuse Higgins for getting a little carried away while pumping a teammate’s tires, but Salo’s health will be a significant determining factor in whether the Canucks make another deep playoff run.