The Vancouver Canucks open their lockout-shortened, 48-game season this weekend. They host Anaheim on Saturday and Edmonton on Sunday.
VANCOUVER, B.C. — The season starts Saturday and Alain Vigneault’s plans already are in danger of being tested, tweaked and, possibly, scrapped.
Heading into the lockout-shortened campaign, the coach of the Vancouver Canucks wants to keep his players fresh by monitoring their ice time closely. Ideally, he would like to roll four forward lines and six defensemen.
But the absences of injured center Ryan Kesler (shoulder, wrist) and wing David Booth (groin) have created two holes on the team’s second line that could dictate otherwise.
“We’re going to have to do a good job, especially at the beginning, of spreading the ice time around and making sure that the minutes our players are giving us are quality minutes,” Vigneault said.
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Vancouver hosts Anaheim at 7 p.m. Saturday and Edmonton at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Under the extraordinary conditions of a 48-game schedule, last witnessed in 1994-95, it is impossible to predict how things will go, Vigneault said. But the team’s research shows a similar roster is needed in a 48-game schedule as in the usual 82-game version.
Accordingly, Vigneault plans to stick with what he knows — a veteran lineup — and make adjustments going forward as the Canucks attempt to win a third straight Presidents’ Trophy as the top regular-season team and get back to the Stanley Cup Final after losing to Boston in 2011.
“I’m going to, obviously, start with things that have worked in the past,” Vigneault said. “But I firmly believe that talent has no age. If anybody can step in and contribute to this team, they will be here.”
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Edler, 26, had 11 goals and 38 assists last season. He was to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer.