Winger Brock Boeser (undisclosed), who has been sidelined the past three games, practised as well on Monday but is listed as ‘day-to-day’
Head coach Bruce Boudreau is inching closer to his ‘A’ lineup with the Vancouver Canucks.
Defenceman Quinn Hughes (lower body injury), who has missed the past four games, practised both Sunday and Monday and is expected to suit up Tuesday when the Canucks host his younger brother Jack Hughes and the New Jersey Devils at Rogers Arena.
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Winger Brock Boeser (undisclosed), who has been sidelined the past three games, practised as well on Monday. He subbed in and out on the line rushes with various trios and didn’t see any time with the power-play units, so he may not be quite ready for a return yet. Boudreau called Boeser a “game-time decision” initially for Tuesday, but then switched that to “day-to-day.”
The injuries plus the roster turnover — defenceman Ethan Bear and forward Jack Studnicka could make their Vancouver debuts against New Jersey after being acquired in two separate trades last week — led to Boudreau being asked if he’s certain what he’s got just yet with this Canucks group.
“We know what it’s going to look like if everyone plays to their best,” said Boudreau. “The last couple of games we’ve been turning the curve a little bit, so we’re seeing a little bit more of what we’d like. Hopefully that continues.”
He also said there wasn’t any rush to get a Hughes or a Boeser back in the lineup, even with the early struggles out of the gate for Vancouver (2-5-2).
“If this was Game 60 I’d say it might be a little tougher,” Boudreau said. “This is Game 8 and 9. We want them healthy for the last 70 games and not just for two or three games. We’re taking our time on all of them to make sure that they’re 100 per cent before they get back in.”
Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils
7 p.m., Rogers Arena.
TV: SN 360. Radio: Sportsnet 650.
The return of Hughes and Boeser would provide a spark to the Canucks in various facets, but likely their scoring punch most of all. Boeser is off to a slow start by his standards, with no goals and just nine shots through his first six games.
“We all know what he is,” Boudreau said. “He’s scored 25 goals every year and it’s just a matter of time before he starts scoring. And he’s a streaky scorer at that.
“Any more of a threat that we can put in the lineup is great. You know it (his goalless drought) isn’t going to last forever. And he’s been hurt since camp started and he’s just looking for a chance to get himself going.”
Canucks centre Bo Horvat tagged Hughes as “one of our better players,” and said he looked good so far in practice.
“I’m sure he’ll be ready to go play against his brother,” said the Canucks’ captain.
Jack Hughes and the Devils (6-3-0) come into Rogers Arena on a roll, winners of three straight, including a 7-1 drubbing of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.
New Jersey is led offensively by 24-year-old winger Jesper Bratt, who has 15 points, including four goals, through nine games. Hughes, a centre, has three goals and eight points.
The 21-year-old Hughes has three goals and five points in four career games against Vancouver. He’s won three of four in his head-to-head showdown at the NHL level with Quinn, a 23-year-old rearguard. The Canucks’ Hughes has two assists in his four career meetings against the Devils.
“They play fast, they shoot from everywhere and they attack the net,” Boudreau said of New Jersey. “They’re great in transition. You’d better have your solid game going. At any second they can get into a 2-on-1 or a 3-on-2 and they’re skilled up front, so they can make it hurt when they do that.
“They’re playing well enough right now that they scare every team in the league.”
Horvat added: “They’re one of the hotter teams in the NHL right now. They’re playing really well. Obviously it feels good to get those two wins, but we have a lot of work to do ahead of us and it starts with tomorrow night.”
When the Canucks announced Sunday they were having a news conference on Monday afternoon, there was some questions on social media about whether it centred around Horvat, who’s in the final year of a contract that will take him to unrestricted free agency next summer. He told the fifth estate assembled at his locker stall after practice that he knew the subject matter for the conference but refused to divulge it, other than it didn’t involve him.
Horvat then said of his contact: “It’s completely in the back of my mind. Now that the season has started, the last thing I want to worry about is contract talks. For me, it’s doing whatever I can to help this team win and push myself every night to be the best leader I can.”
There were no injury updates on defencemen Tucker Poolman (undisclosed), Riley Stillman (undisclosed) and Travis Dermott (concussion) or forward Curtis Lazar (undisclosed).
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