The list is extensive.
Andrew Alberts has a concussion. Mike Santorelli is done for this season following shoulder surgery. Chris Tanev has a broken thumb. Kevin Bieksa has an injured foot. Yannick Weber has an upper body injury (and is still supposed to play for Switzerland in Sochi). Dan Hamhuis is out, but supposed to play Saturday against Toronto before heading to Sochi to represent Canada. Brad Richardson and Chris Higgins had been injured, but returned to the lineup against Montreal on Thursday.
While Alberts has only played 10 games this season, players like Santorelli have played a huge role on the team. Santorelli had 10 goals and 28 assists in 49 games, a surprisingly dependable and strong player in his first year with Vancouver. It has also hurt to have three of the Canucks’ top defenders injured, as they have been forced to lean upon less experienced players and AHL call-ups.
And then there is Henrik Sedin. Injured in a game against Phoenix, Henrik sat out six games with bruised ribs. He played two games this week, on Monday and Tuesday, before the Canucks announced that they would not let him play in the final two games before the Olympics. Henrik displayed many signs that he was playing injured this week. At times it looked like he was trying to avoid contact with other players, and at several points put his arms up as if to protect his ribs. To add to that, he registered no shots on net and no points. On Thursday, he announced that he would not be playing for Sweden in Sochi.
“I’m disappointed not to be physically able to represent my country at the Winter Olympic Games,” Henrik said in a statement. “This is a difficult decision but ultimately the best decision for me personally, Team Sweden and the Vancouver Canucks.”
With so many injured players, the Canucks’ line-up has not looked very familiar. Earlier this week against Boston and Montreal, the Canucks’ defence consisted of only two of their top four defenders, Alex Edler and Jason Garrison. The defence also included newcomer Raphael Diaz, who was traded from Montreal for Dale Weise, Ryan Stanton, who has been a healthy scratch several times this season, and AHL call-ups Frank Corrado and Yann Sauve.
Forward Pascal Pelletier was also called up from Utica and played on Tuesday and Thursday.
The Canucks are struggling, there’s no secret there (they have 14 losses and 4 wins in 2014), and these injuries certainly do not help the situation. So now, the Olympic break seems like a blessing. The players who are not travelling to Sochi will have time to rest, and several of the injured ones, such as Bieksa and Tanev, could be ready to play when the NHL season resumes at the end of February.
The Canucks have one more game before the break on Saturday against Toronto. They return on February 26th against the St. Louis Blues.