Desperate for wins to get back in the playoff race, the Vancouver Canucks (14-18-3) should get a boost tonight against the Kings with the return of defenseman Alex Edler.
“I’ve felt good the last few days,” said Edler, who’s missed 13 games with a broken finger. “I’m looking forward to returning tonight.”
The Canucks still have injuries on the back end, most notably to Erik Gudbranson. But if Edler does return, it will mark the first time since Nov. 2 that he and Chris Tanev, Vancouver’s two best defensemen, will both be in the lineup.
Of course, it’s not all good news on the injury front. Winger Jannik Hansen is sidelined again, and that means Jayson Megna will join the Sedin twins on the first line — quite the opportunity for a 26-year-old with just nine career NHL goals.
“I’m super excited to skate with the Sedins,” said Megna. “I was on their line when I scored two goals in Tampa Bay.”
The Canucks have a very important stretch ahead of them. They host the Kings tonight, the Ducks Friday, then play Saturday in Edmonton. After that, it’s three more home games against Colorado, Arizona, and Calgary.
If they’re not back in the race by the end of that stretch, well, let’s just say things could get interesting in Vancouver. After all, the Canucks had higher expectations for themselves than most prognosticators had.
“I like our goaltending, I like our defense now and I like our center ice,” GM Jim Benning said back in October. “I can’t wait until the season starts.”
And yet, this season has looked a lot like last season, when injuries and a dearth of talent sunk the Canucks. Management had hoped the additions of Loui Eriksson and Gudbranson would help, but both players have under-delivered. Eriksson has just six goals in 35 games; Gubranson, when healthy, found it a struggle to make an impact in the defensive end.