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<img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4d/Rick_Rypien.png/225px-Rick_Rypien.png" class="imageFloatRightFramed">Ryan Johnson's anticipated return to the Canucks lineup on Wednesday night against the Edmonton Oilers will mean a decision will need to be made on who comes out of the lineup. Winger Steve Bernier and defenceman Aaron Rome could also return.
After a 6-2 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it's hard to pinpoint a particular player who had a bad game. As usual, the obvious candidates to take out of the lineup are Jannik Hansen and Darcy Hordichuk.
You have to believe that Jannik Hansen's spot in the lineup is safe after helping to setup Henrik Sedin's bank-in goal at 14:42 of the first period and then scoring himself on a slap-pass from Henrik Sedin at 3:04 of the second.
You can't take Darcy Hordichuk out of the lineup either. Since his return to the lineup on Boxing Day against the Edmonton Oilers, Hordichuk has been a physical and agitating force on the ice in his limited ice time. On Saturday night, Hordichuk drew three penalties and led the team with Brad Lukowich in hits with four. You noticed Hordichuk every time he was on the ice for the right reasons and on one occasion, he had a huge one in the corner on Sidney Crosby.
And Rypien, nothing. With the exception of a shot off the post, Rypien was invisible out there and for pretty much most of the season five-on-five. I expect more of a contribution from Rypien in the hitting department as one of the fourth line energy players. Rypien has dressed in 41 games and has 62 hits. Hordichuk's played in 33 games, eight less than Rypien, and has 77 hits for third on the team. Rypien has played in more games and averages more ice-time a game than Hordichuk. On the official scoresheet for Saturday night's game, he had two hits in the game, anybody see any of those?
Rypien's made a name for himself for the league already as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the NHL, if not the best. So it's not going to be easy for him to find a dance partner each game to provide energy for the team. He has to hit and he hasn't been doing that.
Between him and Hordichuk, he's the better player in every aspect and the far better skater. Hordichuk always seems to have troubles staying on his feet both while playing hockey and in fights. Rypien should be able to fly into the forecheck a lot quicker and adjust accordingly to make the hit. But it's not happening.
Defenceman Aaron Rome could make his return to the lineup after missing more than a week with a concussion. In the four games this season, Brad Lukowich has been steady on defence for the Canucks while Aaron Rome during the time Kevin Bieksa's been out has been guilty of trying to do much on a few occasions. Don't expect a change until Lukowich really screws up in a game.
In addition, winger Steve Bernier could return as well after missing the past three games with a groin injury meaning another forward may need to come out of the lineup.
Needless to say, my candidate to come out of the lineup for Ryan Johnson on Wednesday is Rick Rypien. If Steve Bernier is fit to play, the other forward for me would be Tanner Glass, not because he's played bad this season or Saturday night, but him and Rypien were the worst of the best and two players in particular that I did not notice much of on the ice.
How about we see that hit on Matt Cooke by Shane O'Brien again?
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