Hat-tip to Ambassador Missy for finding and posting the news in the FanShot section.
Kristin Reid reported today on Canucks.com that Pavol Demitra may play Saturday against the Penguins. Why the hunch? Because Demo's game gear is in his stall in the Canucks' dressing room and he also had accompanied the Canucks in Minnesota earlier this week. Demitra himself said that he is feeling good and that he'll take it day-by-day. Roberto Luongo said that Pavol looks good in practice. Here is the Reid Report video.
So on what line will Demitra play when he returns? I know we've talked about it a bit recently, but let's address it again. What makes the most sense? Line 2 or Line 3? Sure, Line 3 could use another skilled player of Demitra's caliber on it for Kyle Wellwood to feed the puck to, as Steve Bernier and Tanner Glass are not hitting the net. That is one argument.
More after the jump...Another case for Demitra playing on Line 3 is that the Ryan Kesler-Mikael Samuelsson-Mason Raymond line is doing just fine the way it is, so why change it? Samuelsson is thriving on Line 2, averaging more ice time per game than he ever has in his career (17:20) and is on pace to eclipse his career-high 45 points that he accomplished in his first season in Detroit in 2005-06. He currently has 15 goals and 31 points in 47 games played this season. If ESPN is correct, Samuelsson accomplished his 45-point season playing an average of 13:31 per game (just FYI). He is averaging .659 points per game this year, which is more than I thought he'd achieve.
Cases for Pavol playing on Line 2 instead of Samuelsson (or even Raymond): Mikael (They Can Go F**k Themselves) Samuelsson is better known for his 2-way play than Demitra is. The same applies even more-so to Demitra replacing Raymond there. Demitra is also far more offensive than Samuelsson (Demitra averaged .768 points per game with the Canucks last season) and is getting paid $4 million per season to be more than a 3rd liner with less ice time. That kind of money is not spent on a depth player.
It's a pleasant problem to have because either way you slice it, Line 3 especially is going to get better. My guess is that if Demitra plays on Line 3, it will only be for a short while. He belongs on the Kesler Line. You can't have an RPM line without Demitra on it (Ryan-Pavol-Mason), plus he is much quicker than Samuelsson. So there is my opinion, what's yours?
OTHER INJURY UPDATES
Steve Bernier was practicing by himself on Thursday. His groin is still tender. Very doubtful for Saturday.
The same applies to Ryan Johnson, who does not want to risk re-injuring his broken foot. He is being cautious.
Alexandre Bolduc's shoulder is messed up but it is not known yet how bad. Remember, he suffered a shoulder injury in late October that caused him to miss 13 games. He may have popped the same one out.
With these guys out and sans Demitra, the Canucks (unless I'm drugged) only have 11 forwards on their roster. So we could be hearing about a call-up from Manitoba in the next few days, especially if Demitra is not ready to go.