Vancouver will be boosted by the return of second line centre Ryan Kesler, who’s played just seven games this season.

Kesler missed the first 12 games of the season due to off-season shoulder surgery, but fractured his foot in his first game back. He tried to play through the injury but packed it in near the end of February. He’s missed 19 games since.

“We looked at the schedule, the foot didn’t hurt and, really, we don’t practice much down the stretch, so it’s just play to get into shape,” said Kesler, who vowed he would try to work his way back into playing tonight.

Still, Kesler’s return adds an excellent two-way hockey player who’s amongst the best in the league in the face-off circle.

Kesler’s foot injury allowed him to further strengthen his surgically repaired shoulder but kept him from doing much cardio work. He’s only skated about three times.

“I’m not exactly sure what we’re going to get back,” laughed Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. “He’s been out for quite some time now and been off skates, but like they used to do we’re going to play him into shape. We don’t have the luxury of a lot of practices, so we’re going to limit his ice-time at the beginning and the more he gets games, the better he’ll be down the road.”

Vigneault said he would limit Kesler’s ice-time by not playing him on special teams — Kesler is usually a key player on both power play and penalty kill — at least for tonight’s game.