Tambellini embraces depth role

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:27 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- It would be easy to assume Jeff Tambellini is frustrated.

The Canucks forward hasn't scored since Dec. 28 and has registered a paltry two assists in his last 23 games. He's been a healthy scratch three times during that span, including Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Montreal.

But the 26-year-old is taking his offensive struggles in stride. In fact, he's actually happy to be in the position he is now, playing on the NHL's first-place team.

"I'm definitely not looking at it as a tough situation because guys around the league would give anything to be a part of this group right now," Tambellini said. "When I signed here, I planned to be the guy to bring depth to this roster and be able to jump in with our top line, our fourth line, throughout the lineup."

The Canucks may very well call upon him to do just that and jump in on the third line Thursday if Raffi Torres can't suit up. The third-liner missed Wednesday's practice with what coach Alain Vigneault called "a stinger" to his left shoulder, suffered against the Canadiens.

While the left winger was expected to be fine, Tambellini admitted he needed to raise his game up a notch when he steps back into the lineup.

"I always want to bring more hits, more energy," he said. "I'm just trying to be reliable out there. I can't be out there trying to search for goals."

His teammates, however, will be searching for goals against the new-look St. Louis Blues Thursday.

St. Louis, who acquired forward Chris Stewart and defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk from Colorado over the weekend, downed the Canucks 3-2 in Missouri about a week ago. The Blues lead the season-series 2-1.

Cory Schneider will get the start for Vancouver, who are trying to avoid back-to-back losses in regulation for the first time since November.


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