Add Chris Tanev to the Canucks’ long list of injury woes. After losing four straight since Bo Horvat fell to the injury bug the Canucks are desperate to stop the bleeding before this season slips away. The list of players out with injuries is as follows: Brandon Sutter, Bo Horvat, Chris Tanev, Eric Gudbranson, Sven Baertschi, and of course Derek Dorsett.
To summarize: That’s their two best defensive centermen, two thirds of their top line, two top six defenseman (including our best d-man in Tanev), and a heart & soul guy that can rally a team with vigorous physicality.
While Tanev and Horvat top the list of crucial missing pieces, the culmination of these injuries has been too much for the Canucks to withstand – they have been outscored 20 – 5 in their last 4 contests and are on the brink of hitting that big red panic button. While it’s tough to find any sunshine through the thick wet rain cloud hovering over the Canucks, I still feel that there is room for a little sliver of optimism.
The Canucks now have an opportunity to give some younger guys a solid look. Goldobin, while underwhelming in his recent string of appearances, has an opportunity to adjust to the NHL game which should help expedite his development. Guys like Derrick Pouliot are logging big-time minutes. Brendan Gaunce is starting to look like the player we were hoping for when we drafted him… I mean, he still can’t score a goal to save his life, but the rest of his game is rounding out real nicely.
Every team faces adversity throughout the course of the season – and it’s their resilience in the face of those uncontrollable variables that separates the men from the boys. If this Vancouver team can put an impassioned product on the ice tonight against a very good SJ Sharks side, it could be the stepping stone they need to help them trudge their way out of the muck.
Are the Canucks going to get back to their winning ways immediately? Not likely, but if they can maintain at least a .500 record until some of the big ticket boys return from injury they can keep themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot.
If the veterans in this Canuck line-up are prepared to step-up and lead the way (I’m talking to you Loui Ericksson, Sam Gagner, Hank n’ Dank, Alex Edler, and Thomas Vanek) and our tandem of big Swedish netminders can improve their recent play, we have a chance to salvage the teams’ hot start.
So anyone considering tossing their Canucks jersey on to the ice tonight – refrain. This is a resilient and young team with the desire to win that has not fallen out of the playoff hunt yet – let’s cut them a bit of slack and offer our support. I have little doubt that Travis Green and the fellas can right the ship and use these dark times as a character building lesson for the youngsters.