The Vancouver Canucks are basically limping – maybe literally limping – into tonight’s second game of their two-game series against the Winnipeg Jets. Since the first of March, the Canucks have posted an 8-3-1 record to turn themselves from potential sellers to potential buyers as the team suddenly has seemed to gain some traction in what’s turned into a topsy-turvy North Division race.
Now the team has another hurdle to face – injuries to overcome. The fact that the team has basically lost all its centers doesn’t bode well for their chances of winning. Still, for some reason the team’s recent run has come with its best player on the shelf in Elias Pettersson. So the task is not impossible, just tough.
The team’s centers are basically toast for this game. As Canucks’ J.T. Miller noted after the game on Monday, “As much as it [stinks] to lose pretty much all of our centers at this point, this stuff happens. Guys are going to get an opportunity and we need guys to step up. This is the hard part of the season. We just need to literally challenge ourselves to be the best version of ourselves right now.”
In this post, I want to share the team’s most recent roster moves as it puts a team together against the Jets tonight. Right now, captain and center Bo Horvat is potentially unavailable because of an injury. The team has already placed center Pettersson on injured reserve with a vague upper-body injury. And, Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter both have undisclosed injuries.
Still, as converted center Miller noted, this is a chance for others to make a contribution to the team’s playoff push. As Miller noted, “We need guys to step up to the plate. This is an opportunity.”
Here are the roster moves.
Move One: Elias Pettersson Continues on Long-Term Injured Reserve
Pettersson’s upper-body injury won’t allow him to return to the lineup this week. He’s already missed nine games and he’ll certainly miss more. Because he’s on long-term injured reserve, the next time the 22-year-old Swedish center is eligible to return is on March 31 against the Calgary Flames. The team and the fans miss him.
Move Two: New Canucks Player Travis Boyd Starts Seven-Day Quarantine
I’m quite sure that the Toronto Maple Leafs hoped that both Travis Boyd and Jimmy Vesey would clear waivers and would be eligible to move back and forth from the taxi squad. Both were picked up by the Canucks. Vesey was able to hop in his car and drive the less-than-five-hour trip from Toronto to Ottawa to catch the team’s plane to Montreal. Boyd was not so fortunate. Vesey had no quarantine; Boyd does.
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Because Boyd became a Canucks’ player on Monday and had to fly from Toronto to Vancouver, he doesn’t fit under the NHL’s rules for COVID-19-impacted player movement and will have to go through a seven-day quarantine. He’s started that process.
The Canucks could use Boyd right now. The 27-year-old center can help the team. I’ve seen him play a number of times with the Maple Leafs and he’s a better offensive player than many people believe. He scored three goals and five assists (for eight points) in 20 games for the Maple Leafs this season in limited fourth-line minutes. He’s also an option for power-play time.
If he could play tonight he might even be in the team’s top six. However, he won’t be able to play until March 31 if he continues to test negative for COVID-19.
Move Three: Jay Beagle Is Out for Tonight’s Game
Jay Beagle, who has an undisclosed injury, won’t play tonight. Canucks’ head coach Travis Green had noted that he hoped the team would be able to get Beagle back “sooner rather than later.” However, sooner isn’t tonight. Beagle’s injury just needs more time to heal. Although Beagle only has a goal and five points in 30 2020-21 games, his value to the team isn’t measured on the score sheet. He’s missed.
Move Four: Brandon Sutter Is Day-to-Day
Brandon Sutter, who also has that ubiquitous “undisclosed injury,” was evaluated as day-to-day by coach Green. It looked as if Sutter might have been ready to play on Monday, but he was a late scratch. There’s a chance he can play tonight.
Move Five: Bo Horvat Is Day-to-Day
Bo Horvat, who has what’s called a lower-body injury, was also deemed to be day-to-day by coach Green. As noted by Sportsnet’s Joe Kenward, there is a possibility that Horvat could be playing. He left Monday’s game and we’re just unsure what his status might be.
We do know that he has to be in considerable pain after being hit just above the laces on his left skate by a slap shot. It might just be one of those painful injuries that isn’t serious over the long haul; and, if there’s anyone who’ll gut it out for the team it’s Horvat.
I have a feeling we might be seeing him in the game. If we don’t, the Canucks will have to manufacture his scoring (14 goals and 12 assists) and leadership somewhere. The 25-year-old captain is one of the team’s key players.
Move Six: Marc Michaelis Moved to the Team’s Taxi Squad
Marc Michaelis was moved to the team’s taxi squad earlier this week.The 25-year-old un-drafted player from Germany has played six games with the Canucks this season, but has not scored. He’s an interesting player, who’s shown an offensive touch at Minnesota State University – Mankato. He might be an interesting player to watch over the next few seasons.
Move Seven: Tyler Graovac Moved to the Active Roster
Is there a chance that, given the team’s injuries, that 27-year-old forward Tyler Graovac might see game action for the Canucks? He’s scored nine points over nine games with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. Should he play, he’ll likely take up a spot on the team’s third or fourth line.
What’s Next for the Canucks?
Injuries or no injuries, the simple fact is that the Canucks haven’t played a winning game against Winnipeg in just under five years. In fact, the last time the team actually beat the Jets in Vancouver was on Dec. 20, 2016. Since that game, the team’s posted a 0-6-1 home record and has only scored nine goals in seven games. By the way, they’ve been shut out three times (including Monday night) in that span.
This season, the Canucks’ record is 0-2-1 against Winnipeg. What are the chances that Thatcher Demko goes bubble and stones the Jets and Jake Virtanen wrists one by Connor Hellebuyck. The team needs some sort of combination of such events to gain a win over a tough – especially for them – Jets’ team.
It hasn’t seemed to matter who the Canucks ice. They’ve lost to the Jets with their best. Perhaps this injury-riddled group can pull one out and a new hero will emerge. Making the playoffs this season will likely take a number of new heroes. Could it start tonight?
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act). He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf