Vancouver Canucks Recall 2008 First-Round Pick Cody Hodgson from Manitoba Moose
The Canucks have probably waited a long time to finally have a look at Hodgson.
During the first three months of the season, Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault auditioned a number of players for that fourth line centre spot after centre Alex Bolduc went down with a high-ankle sprain one game into the NHL season.
Jeff Tambellini, Peter Schaefer, Mario Bliznak and Joel Perrault all had their turns as the fourth line centre, and presumably it was Cody Hodgson's turn just as room was made for him when Perrault was returned to the minors in early December.
But Hodgson broke his orbital bone after teammate Lee Sweatt's stick caught up under his visor in practice.
After missing over a month, Hodgson returned to the Manitoba Moose lineup on January 23 and has suited up for four games since. He was held pointless and has been wearing a full-face shield.
While Hodgson might still not be at top game shape, his addition to the lineup should be welcomed.
It can be argued the team never had a fourth line centre the entire season because of Alex Bolduc's deficiencies in the faceoff circle, and after two shoulder injuries from taking faceoffs, Bolduc should never be allowed to play centre again.
Hodgson will finally give a team a fourth line centre. His ability to play with and without the puck has been well documented.
He will immediately bring scoring ability and dependability to the fourth line. If his wingers go to the net with their sticks on the ice, Hodgson will find them with his passing abilities.
Hodgson's hockey sense and defensive game will allow Vigneault to give the line more ice time, as he knows he does not have three grinders on the ice with zero hockey sense.
Hodgson should be a help to the second power play unit as well. After the decision was made by new assistant coach Newell Brown to load up the first unit with Ryan Kesler and Daniel and Henrik Sedin, the second unit has consistently throughout the season consisted of a bunch of seemingly random players from the second and third lines thrown together.
More often than not, the second unit is unable to enter the offensive zone, unable to set up the power play formation or mount any offensive pressure and obviously lacking in chemistry.
The Canucks end up wasting the second half of the power play after the first unit has exited the ice.
In the last game before the All-Star break against the Nashville Predators, we saw a second power play unit of Alex Burrows, Raffi Torres and Jeff Tambellini up front with Mason Raymond and Kevin Bieksa on the points.
Burrows and Torres like to go to the net, Tambellini likes to shoot, Raymond likes to skate laps and Bieksa likes to make ill-advised pinches. The unit lacks the quarterback to get the puck to Tambellini for the shot to take advantage of the net presence provided by either Burrows or Torres.
The second unit now has a centre for the first time and a quarterback from the halfboards.
Hodgson has just played in four games after missing over a month, so don't expect Hodgson to be great immediately.
Knowing Hodgson just returned from injury, expect the Canucks to give him a longer look than what Joel Perrault, Mario Bliznak and Sergei Shirokov got.
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