"We're sitting here talking about practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game. But we're talking about practice, man. How silly is that?" Basketball star Allen Iverson's greatest failure is he played the wrong sport. The Vancouver Canucks would have been perfect for the guard who famously groused about practising. But he would not have been perfect for the Canucks. Iverson was all about himself, the Canucks are all about the team. Sure, they practise about as often as they lose, which is not very. Monday's workout at Rogers Arena was the Canucks' first full practice in 10 days. Rest is more important than practice for the best team in the National Hockey League. But Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard have had about all the rest they can handle. They were elated to practise on Monday. And on Tuesday they'll lead the Canucks' cavalry charge against the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m., Sportsnet, Team 1040). Hamhuis plays for the first time since Ryan Getzlaf's end-boards bomb concussed the Canuck blueliner on Feb. 9. Ballard, whose knee was sprained by Milan Michalek's slew foot on Feb 7, may also play Tuesday. If he doesn't, he'll be back in the lineup Thursday against the St. Louis Blues. The greatest rash of blue-line injuries in Canucks history — which is like saying the ugliest part of Newark — is over. Instead of missing six defencemen, including five regulars who helped push the Canucks to the top of the NHL standings, Vancouver will soon be down only four. More remarkable than the injury epidemic was the Canucks' ability to withstand it. Vancouver is 4-3 since Ballard began a cycle of four injuries in five games, and 8-3 since Edler's back surgery began the blue-line exodus four weeks ago.
Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard back to lead Canucks cavalry charge
Vancouver Sun | Feb 22