I’ve got to admit that when I heard the news this morning that Manny Malhotra would be lost for the regular season and playoffs due to his eye injury, I began a mini-panic. Weird that a season ending injury to a 30-35 point scorer could cause such angst, but anybody that has followed this team closely knows that he’s more than that.
The Vancouver Canucks will play tonight’s game in Nashville without Alex Edler, Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Andrew Alberts and, as we found out this morning, Kevin Bieksa. That’s 5 of their top 7 defencemen out of the lineup. To make matters worse, minor leaguer Lee Sweatt broke his foot in practice. Even the Manitoba Moose have injury troubles on the blueline, with Nolan Baumgartner suffering an injury last week. He might have been one of the recent call-ups.
My eyebrow was raised a little bit with the news this morning that Sergei Shirokov has been re-called by the Vancouver Canucks. Remember him? Shirokov had some good seasons in Russia since being drafted by the Canucks in the sixth round back in 2006. He made the move to North America last year, dazzled everyone in preseason and earned a spot on opening night.
First of all, let me start off this article by stating that this is not a knee jerk reaction article because of last night’s 7-1 debacle against the Chicago Blackhawks. I have been thinking about writing this article for some time now, and last night just cemented my feelings on this.
Reports out of Finland are saying that Sami Salo has injured his achilles tendon in a game of floor hockey and could be gone 3-5 months. The report has not been confirmed as of yet. Assuming the report is true, this could be a very difficult injury for Salo, now 35, to recover from. Not only is he 35, but he has a lot of mileage on his body. One side effect of Salo being injured may be Kevin Bieksa. The longer Salo is out, the more valuable Kevin Bieksa becomes. A long term injury also provides salary cap relief, just as Pavol Demitra’s long term injury did last season.
Team 1040 is reporting that Pavol Demitra will likely make his season debut Saturday versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. Great news, now all they have to decide is where to put him. Has the second line of Samuelsson, Kesler, and Raymond shown enough to not get broken up? I’m not sure it has. It appears Alain Vigneault isn’t ready to shake up his top two lines. Here’s what the lines looked like at practice today:
What do you think Keith Ballard will say the next time he sees Tomas Vokoun? Probably going to be a little awkward I’m thinking.
At the quarter-way mark of the 2009-10 season, the Canucks have successfully treaded water. With a record of 10-10-0, you’d think that the Canucks would be disappointed, and perhaps they are. For me, this is about what we should have expected, all things considered.
How bad are the Canucks injury woes? Well, they’ve brought back a Tampa Bay Lightning cast-off! Yeeesh. Actually, I don’t mind this signing. Matt Pettinger was re-signed by Mike Gillis yesterday. With all their injuries at the moment, bringing a veteran NHL forward who can skate and kill penalties probably isn’t a bad idea.
In a weird twist this season, the Canucks have all 8 of their defencemen healthy (defencemen usually are the most injury prone), and a whole whack of injuries to forward, and then of course there’s Roberto Luongo. The result has been a lot of dull hockey, with the team trying to play more defensive due to their lack of fire power. With that said, here’s a review of the replacements for Luongo, Daniel Sedin, Pavol Demitra and Ryan Johnson (as well as Kyle Wellwood and Rick Rypien here and there).