Bieksa back for Canucks versus Preds

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The Vancouver Canucks should get a key player back in their lineup tonight as defenseman Kevin Bieksa expects to suit up against the Predators at Rogers Arena.

Bieksa has missed seven of Vancouver’s last eight games with a groin injury, with the Canucks winning just once in the seven games he was sidelined.

“I’m feeling good now,” said Bieksa. “I’ve had probably five or six days of being pain-free so I think that’s a good thing.”

If he plays, Bieksa will replace Cam Barker, with Keith Ballard being the other healthy scratched defenseman.

Roberto Luongo will start in goal after stopping 26 of 27 shots in Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout win in Columbus.

The Canucks have also recalled physical forward Steve Pinizzotto from AHL Chicago. Head coach Alain Vigneault says it’s possible the 28-year-old, who’s currently en route to Vancouver, could make his NHL debut tonight.

Related: Vigneault feeling the heat

0-for-20: Vancouver’s power play is scoreless in eight games


One of the best power plays in the NHL the past few seasons has been coming up empty like a bullet-riddled bucket.

In their last eight games, the Vancouver Canucks are 0-for-20 with the man advantage — a stretch that not so coincidentally has seen them win just twice.

Times have become so desperate that coach Alain Vigneault announced today he may see what much-maligned defenseman Cam Barker can do tonight in Columbus.

There’s been no shortage of analysis on what’s wrong with a power play that’s fallen to 24th (15.0%) out of 30 teams. Ryan Kesler’s absence with a broken foot hasn’t helped. Nor has the lack of a booming right-hand shot from the point after Sami Salo signed with Tampa Bay in the summer. Alex Edler’s struggles have been well-documented. Daniel Sedin isn’t taking enough shots and/or getting enough chances to take shots. And Vigneault has been hesitant to deploy new addition Jason Garrison, who scored nine power-play goals last season in Florida.

Meanwhile, the streaking Blue Jackets have surrendered just one power-play goal in their last 10 games.

Related: Slumping Canucks recall Ebbett, send Schroeder back to AHL

Canucks’ Ballard back against Sharks


Keith Ballard will get a chance to redeem himself tonight against San Jose, as the Canucks’ defenseman will be back in the lineup after sitting out two straight games as a healthy scratch.

Ballard will take the spot of Andrew Alberts, joining Cam Barker — who made his season debut Sunday against Calgary — on the team’s third pairing.

For Ballard, it’s just the latest bit of adversity he’s faced during his time in Vancouver. It was reported yesterday that Ballard’s agent would be calling the Canucks about his frustrated client. The 30-year-old is signed through 2014-15 with a cap hit of $4.2 million.

Less than a month ago, Ballard was being lauded by the coaching staff for his improved play. But head coach Alain Vigneault said today that the defenseman hasn’t been good enough lately — an assessment Ballard didn’t deny.

“I look back at my last couple of games and I didn’t play well,” Ballard said. “The situation I’m in, the role I’m in, it’s up to me to make the best of it. I think before that I was playing real solid, but it’s game-to-game and whether or not I like that, it doesn’t matter.”

In other club news, defenseman Kevin Bieksa is still day-to-day with a groin injury and will miss his fourth game in Vancouver’s last five outings.

Cory Schneider will start in goal against the Sharks.

Finally, assistant GM Lorne Henning confirmed to The Province that the Canucks are attempting to secure a spot for top prospect Nicklas Jensen with its AHL affiliate in Chicago.

Bieksa’s groin injury opens door for Barker’s Canucks debut


Weather issues forced the Vancouver Canucks to arrive in Calgary for Sunday’s game against the Flames later than anticipated, but that’s not the only challenge they’ll face tonight.

The team must cope without defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who’s out with a groin injury, according to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy. It’s likely that Bieksa, 31, is still hampered by the same issue that sidelined him for two games in late February.

Injuries to players such as Bieksa have opened the door for Cam Barker to make his Canucks debut. The 26-year-old hasn’t lived up to the billing of being the third overall pick of the 2004 NHL Draft, but he’ll get his first chance to prove that he at least deserves to be an everyday player.

Many would argue that’s not the case.

Roundup: Ducks recall Fasth, Kings waive Stewart

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Some minor transactions to pass along…

Ducks bring up Fasth

Anaheim has recalled goalie Viktor Fasth from AHL Norfolk, according to

In May, Fasth signed with Anaheim on a one-year deal to be Jonas Hiller’s backup, but was sent to Norfolk so he could get some game action prior to joining the club.

The 29-year-old is an interesting story, something of a late bloomer.

He spent the majority of his career playing in Sweden’s lower-tier leagues before bursting onto the scene with AIK in 2010-11. Since then, he’s gone on to win back-to-back Honken Trophies, awarded annually to the top goalie in Sweden (the only other multiple winners are New York’s Henrik Lundqvist and former Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist.)

In a related move, Anaheim sent down goalie Frederik Andersen to the Admirals.

Canucks waive Vandermeer

Vancouver has placed defenseman Jim Vandermeer on waivers, according to TSN.

The 32-year-old signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Canucks during training camp, shortly after the club inked another veteran defenseman — Cam Barker.

Vandermeer was a healthy scratch for both of Vancouver’s losses on the weekend and had been practicing as both a defenseman and forward at camp.

If he’s not claimed, he’ll probably be off to AHL Chicago.

Kings waive Stewart

Los Angeles has put Anthony Stewart on waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Stewart, 28, was acquired by Los Angeles from Carolina at the beginning of training camp, in exchange for enforcer Kevin Westgarth.

He didn’t dress for the Kings’ season-opening loss against Chicago, and is presumably on waivers to facilitate the return of Anze Kopitar, who missed the opener with a knee injury.

If Stewart clears, he’ll likely be headed to AHL Manchester.