The Canucks fourth line may be faster and more experienced but don't expect that to translate into more playing time.
Dismissing the idea some of his best players risked burnout because of overplaying, Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault warned the addition of Maxim Lapierre won't take any time on ice away from his top three centres.
"There's only a few minutes available on that (fourth) line," Vigneault said. "If Hank (Henrik Sedin) is playing 18-20 and Kes (Ryan Kesler) is playing 20-22 and Manny (Malhotra) is playing 15, then there is five, six minutes available.
"That's what you get when you play on a fourth line, now. (Lapierre) is aware of that, he understands that. He's gonna be an effective player when he's playing those minutes for us."
Asked if there was any reason to monitor his top players' ice time down the stretch, Vigneault said:
"The push is to win tonight. There are two points at stake. The focus of our team has not changed. It's game to game. It's trying to play well for 60 minutes and to play the right way. And it's going to continue."
Kesler has played more than 22 minutes for six games in a row. He has just one goal in those six games.
Lapierre is expected to be on a line tonight with Tanner Glass and Jeff Tambellini. Described by media as lippy and dirty since the trade, Lapierre sat down with Vigneault before tonight's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets to go over his role.
"I think there is a misconception here about the discipline part," Vigneault said. "He's not the type of player who takes a lot of penalties. He's the type of player who tries to get under the other team's skin and gets them to take penalties.
"The perception people may have is he does talk a lot in-between whistles to different people. We're going to keep focused here on playing whistle to whistle and he'll be fine."
Several Canucks said they like what Lapierre promises to bring — a mix of penalty killing, speed, faceoff success, trash talking and general antagonizing. He's not dissimilar to the type of player featured on many Stanley Cup winning teams, including Matt Cooke in Pittsburgh, Darren McCarty in Detroit, and Claude Lemieux.
"I like it," said Glass. "Maybe I'll get in a few more dust-ups. Sure, I'll welcome that. I wish I had more of what he brings.
"He's a tough guy to play against. You can never have too many of those guys on a team, I think.
"It's going to be fun to have him on my line. The speed factor he has is huge. He's going to be quick on the forecheck and can recover that puck and make a play with it."
The best news for Glass may be the fact he's got some experience to play with. His line all year has been a revolving door which has featured 11 linemates, several of whom were rookies.
After admitting he hasn't played his best hockey this season, Lapierre said he was told to play "my role" in Vancouver.
"They want me to be physical and play as hard as I can," Lapierre said.
"I am going to play between whistles."
Lapierre said he still hasn't talked to new teammate Keith Ballard, who he's fought in the past.
"That happens in hockey, when two guys fight that means they did something right on the ice," Lapierre said. "I haven't talked about it yet but he seems like a great guy."
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