Sharpen those skates, Kevin, you’re playing tonight.

That’s right, after 46 games out of the lineup with a lacerated calf and a one-game conditioning stint in Manitoba, Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa is ready to play tonight against Nashville.

I, for one, am excited. I know a lot of Canucks are still not convinced about ‘Juice‘. But, let’s consider some immutable facts:

  • Bieksa was the Canucks leading scorer among defenceman in 2006-2007, compiling an impressive 42 points in his first full season;
  • Bieksa was the Canucks penalty minute leader in 2006-2007, with 134 PIM; and,
  • Bieksa logged a ton of minutes on the Canucks blueline in 2006-2007.

For all intents and purposes, Bieksa was the Canucks best defenceman in 2006-07.

To be sure, his start to the 2007-2008 season did not seem to replicate his play last year. But, to be fair, he only played a handful of games, anyway. And, it is worth mentioning that these games coincided with an atrocious start to the season for the Canucks, which certainly affected Bieksa’s numbers and overall play.

Ultimately, I look at it like this: the Canucks are welcoming back to the lineup a guy who is, at worst, your number two or three defenceman and, at best, your number one.

That is certainly better than most/all teams are going to do at the trade deadline.

I think this gives the Canucks a massive lift heading down the stretch. Bieksa brings offensive prowess, grit/toughness, and leadership. He is, as Pierre McGuire is wont to say, a monster.

Welcome back, Juice.

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