It appears the Vancouver Canucks may be getting some good news on the blueline Monday night as they play host to the New Jersey Devils, but it could come at the expense of Ryan Parent. Parent left Sunday's practice early with what the team is calling a mild groin strain.
Taking his place could be Keith Ballard, who has missed five games with a concussion.
"I would say [Ballard]might be a game-time decision come [Monday]morning," said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault after Sunday's practice. "He felt real good [Saturday]and has been doing off-ice [workouts]for a few days now.
"We'll see how he is [Monday]and decide then."
Ballard has been out of the lineup since the Canucks' Oct. 15 loss to Los Angeles after he was hit by Kings forward Brad Richardson.
"I felt good," Ballard said. "Last couple days have been a good progression. We'll wait and see how I feel [Monday]"
Andrew Alberts, who tweaked his knee in last Tuesday's win against Colorado, will also be in the lineup Monday night. The defenceman took last Wednesday off to nurse the injury, but has been practising all weekend with his teammates.
The news isn't so good for Dan Hamhuis, who once again skated by himself on Sunday for 20 minutes in a tracksuit. According to Vigneault, Hamhuis still isn't pain-free.
The Smithers, B.C., native has been out of the lineup since Oct. 17 with a bruised foot suffered in Vancouver's 5-1 win over Carolina.
"He's still feeling some discomfort," Vigneault said, "so until he feels better he won't be able to play."
The team still hasn't decided whether he'll travel for the two-game road trip.
There's good news on the way up front for the Canucks as well - Alex Burrows will make his return to the lineup Tuesday night in Edmonton.
"He's ready to go," Vigneault said. "I would not dare tell him he's not playing Tuesday so he's going to play."
Burrows went under the knife to repair a torn labrum in early June and was placed on the long-term injured reserve list at the start of the season.
Vancouver's leading scorer from last season returns to the active roster Tuesday, but was playing coy on his status for the game.
"Well it's not certain yet, I don't know," Burrows said. "That's what I'm hoping for, but we'll see how it goes the next few days and make a decision on Tuesday.
"I feel pretty close, I think. "Hopefully I'll be able to get back up to game speed and everything."
Burrows will take the roster spot left by suspended Canuck Rick Rypien, who is inactive until Saturday's game against Detroit. Rypien's suspension gives the team until Friday night to decide how to handle its abundance of forwards.
Fellow Quebec native Alex Bolduc was seen walking around without his walking boot for the first time during Saturday's Canucks practice and hopes to start skating in the next two weeks to test out his ankle ligaments, which were torn in the Canucks' home opener Oct. 9.
Bolduc was injured on a hit from Jarret Stoll in the second period of the 2-1 loss to Los Angeles.
Special to The Globe and Mail
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