VANCOUVER – One year later, Sami Salo’s bad injury luck continued against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The oft-injured Vancouver defenceman missed his club’s morning skate Tuesday as the Canucks prepared to meet the Blackhawks in the seventh and deciding game of their Western Conference quarter-final series.
“He’s day-to-day,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, offering no further details.
Salo was injured in the first period of Sunday’s sixth game in Chicago after only four shifts. He missed the rest of the game and did not practise Monday upon the club’s return to Vancouver.
Last spring, Salo, who likes to keep reporters guessing about his health status, suffered a ruptured testicle in the fifth game of Vancouver’s second-round series with Chicago. Prior to the sixth game, Salo participated briefly in the morning skate, hid from reporters afterwards, and then surprised many observers by suiting up for the contest, in which Chicago prevailed to take the series 4-2.
Salo’s absence created a lineup opening for Keith Ballard, who confirmed he was playing after sitting out Sunday as a healthy scratch. Ballard never made the playoffs with his former Florida and Phoenix teams.
“As as a player growing up, you’re not dreaming of scoring the game-winner in Game 3 or Game 5,” said Ballard, who signed as a free agent with Vancouver last summer but has not lived up to expectations. “You want to be in these big games.”
Meanwhile, Chicago captain Jonathan Toews relished the role of villain after being a hero for helping Canada win Olympic gold in February 2010 on the same ice surface.
“I guess it’s fun to play both roles,” said Toews.
Toews said there was more hype surrounding the gold-medal game because it one of the men’s hockey prizes was one of the last gold medals to be handed out. But the atmosphere was comparable.
“It’s just one game,” said Toews. “Although there’s different circumstances, the pressure and the excitement and the buzz around this game, it all feels pretty similar. It’s not often that it comes down to one game when you can win something big in the game of hockey.”
Notes—In keeping with his new post-season policy, Vancouver starting goaltender Roberto Luongo did not talk to reporters in the morning.…Canucks backup goaltender Corey Schneider participated in the morning skate after taking practice off Monday following his early departure from Sunday’s sixth game due to cramps caused by dehydration. Schneider, who received intravenous fluids after that game, said he was feeling no ill effects.…Winger Tanner Glass also returned to Vancouver’s lineup after being a healthy scratch in Game 6.…Chicago winger Tomas Kopecky, remained sidelined following his injury in the first game.