Canucks Report: Good news, bad news
After getting a day off on Thursday following their 2-0 win over the Predators the night before, it was back to work on Friday for the Canucks as they continue to try and push to get back into the top-eight of the Western Conference before time runs out.
Vancouver may be coming off a high from Wednesday's win but it was a day of mixed emotions when the team hit the ice again.
The good news is both forwards Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler took part in full practice with the club for the first time since their respective injuries and both be on target to get back in the lineup on Sunday when the Canucks host the Buffalo Sabres although, understandably, both were cautiously optimistic about their chances of returning.
"It felt good today," said Daniel Sedin, who suffered a strained left hamstring during the Heritage Classic back on March 2 and has missed nine games since. "We'll see how it is tomorrow and take it from there but today was a good day."
"I'm not going to play until I'm ready," said Kesler, who was injured during a knee-on-knee collision with Winnipeg's Jim Slater on March 12 and has missed four games since. "There's no sense in me going out there and injuring myself again. I felt good today and I'll see how I feel tomorrow."
While both Sedin and Kesler both want to be patient about their situation and not force things, you can tell both are eager to get back into it and help their team for the stretch run.
"In here we feel like we still have a chance so we're going to do everything we can to get back in, added Sedin about the team's playoff hopes. "That's our goal."
The bad news
While getting Sedin and Kesler back would be a huge boost, the Canucks faced the prospect of potentially missing a key contributor in Alex Burrows when they get back in action on Sunday.
Burrows missed practice with a hand injury sustained after he was slashed by Nashville's Shea Weber during Wednesday's victory. Burrows, who has five goals and nine points combined over his last six outings, managed to finish that game but it's anyone's guess now as to when he might be ready to go again.
"It's been a very difficult time for him especially the way he plays," said head coach John Tortorella. "We'll see what happens."
The company line for most teams at this time of year is that you can't focus on what other teams are doing and can only focus on what you can control and that's win the games you're in.
Torts admitted on Friday, however, that even though he might not necessarily be the one turning on NHL Centre Ice and following all the out-of-town action, he figures his players probably should be at this point.
"I want them to watch the scoreboard," said Torts. "But, again, we have to win. It doesn't matter what we're watching or who we're watching if we don't take care of our business."
Before the start of game action on Friday, the Canucks sat five points behind the eighth-place Phoenix Coyotes in the standings. The Coyotes, however, hold two games in hand on Vancouver. Phoenix will burn up one of those games-in-hand on when they host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
Vancouver, however, will also need to leapfrog the Dallas Stars as well as fend off the Winnipeg Jets in order to get back into a playoff position.
Recently-signed forward Mike Zalewski from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was also a participant at practice today. He's expected to remain on the Canucks roster for the duration of the season although it's a question mark whether or not he'll see any game action.
Coach Torts admitted that his team, at this point, has not considered throwing the New Hartford, NY-native into the fire just yet but it might not be entirely out of the question.
"We want him to practice, we want to take a look at him," said Torts. "Good sized kid, we see some of the skill he has."