The Canucks got some more bad news the other day, learning that David Booth has a pulled groin and will be out of the lineup for 4 to 6 weeks. That’s coupled with Ryan Kesler’s injury, to which we don’t know when he will be back.
This news has sparked people to completely overreact, wondering if the Canucks should change their system and play more like they did in 2006-07 when they emulated the 2003-04 edition of the Minnesota Wild. Others have suggested that the Canucks can’t win the Stanley Cup this year because of this news. Utter nonsense.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if Ryan Kesler doesn’t return to form come playoff time I don’t like their chances of lifting Lord Stanley’s mug. But at this point, that’s far too early to declare. Kesler is injured right now, he’s recovering from shoulder and wrist surgery, but when will he be back? Nobody really knows for sure. Of course I’m no doctor, but judging by how long he has been skating and working out, I would venture to say that he’ll play half of this shortened season at worst. If he does that and can get back to being the player we have come to know, the Canucks should do just fine.
But what about David Booth? He’s gone 4-6 weeks, which should have him back in the Canucks lineup in March. That gives him plenty of time to be ready by playoff time.
I realize that I have mentioned the playoffs twice already and that’s not a birth right to the Canucks of course. But it should still be expected, even without Kesler and Booth for half a shortened season.
It has been widely reported that the Canucks second line now consists of Mason Raymond, Andrew Ebbett (replacing Kesler) and Zack Kassian (replacing Booth). That does sound frightening, but it simply isn’t true. The Canucks second line to start the season will be Max Lapierre, Jannik Hansen and Chris Higgins. In other words when two thirds of your second line is injured, you promote your third line, not your farm team’s first line. I actually think a case can be made that Hansen and Higgins are a better duo than Booth and Raymond.
The Canucks are not a better team with Kesler and Booth injured, but everyone should step away from the ledge. They’re still well positioned in goal and on defence and they still have Daniel and Henrik Sedin on their top line. On paper at least, they’re still a formidable team that should win their division. If they can do that and get everyone healthy again, they will be a strong contender for the Stanley Cup.