Just when the Canucks were getting healthy, another key injury has hit them. Kevin Bieksa who shares the team lead with 5 goals, left Friday’s game, which they won 1-0, with what the team is reporting as a groin injury. He is currently listed day to day and isn’t expected to play on the last game of the road trip Sunday in Detroit.
Without Bieksa in the lineup, the Canucks will be missing a key part of their offense and most importantly there defense. Although he only had 6 points, his five goals have him ranked 2nd among NHL defensemen. While the Canucks will obviously miss the blue liner, the good thing to come out of this is they have depth on defense that will help cover up in the short term.
Bieksa also played big minutes paired with Dan Hamhuis on the shutdown pairing at even strength and on special teams as well. Hamhuis will now pair with Edler while Bieksa sits out on Sunday’s game against the Red Wings. Newcomer Jason Garrison will also get a chance to incorporate his big bomb on the second power-play unit in place of Bieksa. The third pairing Chris Tanev and Keith Ballard will be able to soak up some extra minutes as well.
Making his season debut in Bieksa’s absence will be Andrew Alberts. The veteran d-man has played a depth role on the Canucks in recent years, more than adequately filling in when injuries strike. If the injury bug hits the Canucks again while Bieksa is gone, Alain Vigneault will have to dig deeper into his bag of tricks and give Free-Agent newcomer Cam Barker his first chance in a Canucks uniform.
Something to note before all hell breaks loose and there’s another riot in Vancouver, the Canucks made it through 17 games before losing a defender to injury. In the 2010-2011 seasons, the Canucks used 13 different blue liners and only one of them played more than 70 games. It was a little different in 2011-2012 season, as they were a little healthier, but still used nine different defenders.
Hopefully the injury sustained to Bieksa isn’t serious and he can return on Tuesday against the Coyotes, but if not, Canucks fans can at least take comfort that the blue line is deep, and losing Bieksa shouldn’t be a big problem.