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Hamhuis back on the blue-line

The Vancouver Canucks have finally received some good news from their battered blue-line corps.

The Vancouver Canucks have finally received some good news from their battered blue-line corps.

Dan Hamhuis, one of five key defencemen injured during the last four weeks, will play tonight against the visiting Montreal Canadiens after missing five games with a concussion. And Keith Ballard, out seven games with a knee sprain, could also suit up.

“For any team, it’s big to get a top D-man or a forward back,” Sami Salo, no stranger to the injury bug himself, said after yesterday’s practice.

“(Hamhuis) moves the puck well, plays against the other team’s top line, shuts them down. He’s pretty good offensively as well so he’s a big part of this team.”

Hamhuis, a six-foot-one, 209-pound native of Smithers, B.C., is coming off a third career concussion but surprised team doctors with his quick recovery.

He was crushed into the end glass Feb. 9 by Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and lay unconscious on the ice for about half a minute.

It was the hardest hit of the three that produced concussions.

“The others were just little knocks to the head but I felt way worse the next day,” said Hamhuis, who signed as a free agent to join Kevin Bieksa on the Canucks’ shutdown pair.

“It was a quick recovery, considering. I was quite symptom free most of the time, just dealing with some minor head pressure.

“The doctors have been a little bit surprised about how quickly things have moved along but I’m certainly happy about it.”

Hamhuis agreed with Salo that injuries bring mental strain along with the physical pain.

“It’s an injury that’s always in the back of your mind, especially coming back off of one,” Hamhuis said.

“It’s an injury that nobody wants. An arm breaks or gets sore you can fix that up. Heads are a little different story.”

The Canucks have clung to the top spot in the NHL despite the roster presence in the medical room.

There are no projected return dates for Bieksa, who has missed two games with a foot fracture, Andrew Alberts, out three games with a broken wrist or Alex Edler, sidelined 11 games by back surgery.

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