Sami Salo Returns to the Line-Up, Tanev Sent Down

Thomas Drance
January 23 2012 03:48PM

Well, it's now official: the much anticipated Tanev-Edler experiment lasted for one whole game!

With Canucks hardest-shot winner Sami Salo returning to the line-up for Tuesday's game against Edmonton, the Canucks have sent promising sophmore defenseman Chris Tanev back to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. But don't get too upset, Canucks fans, Tanev and his Wolves teammates will face off against the Abbotsford Heat on Wednesday and Thursday night in the lower-mainland. Here's the official team press release from canucks.nhl.com.

On Saturday against San Jose, Chris Tanev had a solid if unspectacular game, finishing with a +1 overall chance differential in nearly 16 minutes of ice-time. While he demonstrated much of what we expected (crisp passing, solid situational awareness, and back-end speed) he also made a coverage error on Dan Boyle's late, game-tying goal. Also, he never saw any special teams minutes, and was used exclusively at even-strength. 

Despite Tanev's somewhat uneven performance on Saturday, I wouldn't read too much into his being sent back down after only one-game. Partly, I suspect that the Canucks want to get Salo into an easier game before thrusting him into playing a top-4 role against a very good Blackhawks team after a four week layoff. It's still a safe bet that we'll see Chris Tanev play a handful of games on a top-four pairing in the lead-up to the trade deadline. One finds it difficult to believe that Tanev showed enough (good or bad) on Saturday for the team to determine whether or not he's a reasonable postseason insurance policy for Sami Salo.

As for Sami Salo, it'll be excellent to see him get back into the lineup. The super-human resilience he's shown during endless battle with durability (his latest concussion was his 41st career injury), and his consummate class have earned him beloved status in Vancouver. Despite its inevitability, Canucks fans were borderline inconsolable to hear him indirectly mention retirement at Canucks Super Skills on Sunday afternoon. Based on the pairings used at practice today, it looks as if Salo will rejoin the top-4, and one hopes, the sputtering first unit power-play in place of Alex Burrows. 

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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