Canucks in deep with Kesler loss
Feb 28, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler (17) skates with the puck against the Minnesota Wild during the first period at Rogers Arena. (Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)
From the sounds of it, don't expect Ryan Kesler to make a hasty return to the team. He's already done for this road trip.
The Vancouver Canucks centre flew back home — and was seen wearing a brace — after a collision in Wednesday's game. He will now get an MRI done on his right knee. Chalk up another low point to this horrid season.
Depending on the severity of Kesler's injury, he could miss a significant chunk of the team's remaining 14 regular season games.
The 29-year-old Michigan native left in the second period after the incident with Winnipeg's Jim Slater and didn’t return. He was spotted in a suit by the time the third period came around.
Even a knee sprain could take several weeks to recover from, meaning Vancouver may be without their top goal scorer for the next bit as they try to pull off some sort of miracle to make the playoffs — a long shot at best.
It also means head coach John Tortorella will need to spread out the ice times on a roster that is already missing Daniel Sedin. And making up Kesler's minutes won't be easy, as the former Selke Trophy winner leads all NHL forwards in logging an average of 22:08 minutes in ice time per game.
With how this year has gone for Vancouver, this injury just adds to the gloom. The Canucks' celebration of their much-needed shootout victory over the Jets is now overshadowed by the loss of their star forward.
They have no choice but to keep moving on.
After earning those two points, the Canucks now sit 10th in the Western Conference. They'll face another desperate team Friday in the Washington Capitals, currently 11th in the East. Prior to Thursday's schedule, the ‘Caps were three points out of a playoff spot.
The Caps have lost five of their last six and were shutout in two of them. Still, they boast the league’s top goal scorer Alex Ovechkin, who has 44 tallies, while teammate Nicklas Backstrom is third overall with 51 assists.
At least the Canucks have a few things to be happy about of late, including forward Alex Burrows finally — emphasis on finally — breaking his scoring drought, potting a pair against the Jets to give him his first two goals of the season. But if the Canucks are to win close to 12 of their 14 remaining games — which still might not guarantee a spot in the post-season — they would need more than just one or two players contributing offensively.
And with Kesler now out, the task becomes all that more difficult.