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VIDEO: Ryan Kesler, Chris Tanev return as Vancouver Canucks host Minnesota Wild
"He is, you know how I feel about him. He has been our steadiest guy."
That was John Tortorella on Friday, speaking about Canucks' defenceman Chris Tanev – trying to hit the right chord between deserved flattery while not inflating the player's free agent value too much (Tanev is in the middle of a one-year deal right now).
Tanev will return to Vancouver's lineup tonight as the Canucks host the Minnesota Wild. The d-man has been injured and out of the lineup since January 27.
"We have missed him terribly," continued Tortorella. "For such a young man, just beginning to explore himself as a player, he is a huge part to our backend so, there'll be some rust, but we're certainly excited to get him back in."
Also returning to Vancouver's lineup is second line center and trade rumour-hounded Ryan Kesler, who missed Wednesday's game with what was believed to be a broken thumb, suffered during the Sochi Olympics.
Eddie Lack gets the start over Roberto Luongo. Lack is coming off a shutout, a 1-0 win over St. Louis two nights ago.
The Canucks have found themselves in injury trouble to start 2014, and have stalled in the Western Conference standings, dropping seven straight before the Olympics.
"It's hard to win in this league if you're not healthy," said Vancouver's captain Henrik Sedin on Wednesday. Henrik has missed time in 2014, as well, and was forced to miss the Winter Olympics this year with a rib injury.
"We've had a lot of injuries and it's nice to see everyone getting back to 100 per cent," Sedin said.
The Canucks currently trail seventh-place Minnesota by six points, and are one point back of the Dallas Stars for the West's eighth and final playoff spot.
VIDEO: Game Day – Canucks vs Wild (Feb. 28, 2014)