There isn’t much reason to worry about Vancouver’s multitude of walking wounded, apparently.
Mike Gillis appeared on the Team 1040 with Blake Price and Matt Sekeres on the "Canucks Lunch" on Wednesday afternoon (podcast here), and, of course, right off the bat Vancouver’s General Manager was grilled about the injury status of Cory Schneider, Chris Tanev, Keith Ballard and Kevin Bieksa. He delivered good news across the board, which should come as a huge relief for Canucks fans.
I get asked about Canucks player injuries all the time on Twitter, as if I know more than what’s out there in the public record. Anyway due to the frequency with which I’m asked about the team’s injury status, I figured I’d assemble the latest updates in one reference post for those who are interested. Read past the jump for more.
In surprising news today, Cory Schneider was shutdown with an undisclosed injury and Joe Cannata was recalled. We assumed the worst earlier in the day (what can I say, we’re a Canucks blog), but as the updates have trickled in it’s not looking so bad.
Mike Gillis described Schneider’s injury as "not very severe" adding that "he’ll be fine," and that it’s even possible that he would play through the injury if Thursday night’s contest were a playoff game. Mike Gillis got even more definitive than that when he said that "I’m sure [that Schneider is] going to be fine for the weekend or the beginning of [next] week."
Asked if we might see Cory Schneider get one more tune up game over the balance of the regular season, Mike Gillis basically said no, but without really saying no:
"I’m not sure he’s played a lot of hockey the last month so I don’t think he needs a final tune up. We’ll see how it goes and see how it settles down
In addition to Mike Gillis’s comments, Cory Schneider told the Vancouver Sun that he was "fine," Roberto Luongo said he didn’t think Schneider’s injury was too serious, and Alain Vigneault turned some heads by clarifying that Schneider’s undisclosed injury is actually a "body injury." "Body injury" is a pretty amazing description, and a new low even for the notoriously obfuscatory playoff version of Alain Vigneault.
For what it’s worth, while Mike Gillis answered the same question with "perhaps," Alain Vigneault proferred that in his opinion Schneider wouldn’t be playing on Thursday, even if it were a postseason game…
Kevin Bieksa and Keith Ballard
Kevin Bieksa skated on his own before Canucks practice on Tuesday and looked, in the opinion of Jeff Paterson, "mobile." Both Bieksa and Keith Ballard joined the Canucks at full team practice on Wednesday morning, and Mike Gillis said that he expects them "playing as early as [Thursday], but probably Sunday."
On the other hand, Kevin Bieksa did leave practice early after skating for about thirty minutes on Wednesday, so perhaps he’s just a little bit further away than Mike Gillis suggested on the radio. Alain Vigneault added that for sure we shouldn’t expect to see Kevin Bieksa back in the lineup against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night, and reading between the lines I’d frankly be pretty surprised if he played a game before the postseason starts…
In summary, based on the updates from Vigneault and Gillis on this subject on Wednesday, it’s possible that both Keith Ballard and Kevin Bieksa will get into the lineup for a tune up game before the playoffs. That said I’d suggest to you that Ballard is slightly more likely to actually dress this weekend than Bieksa is.
That Chris Tanev is still wearing a walking boot with the postseason so close at hand has been a source of much consternation among the Canucks faithful. For good reason too, as Tanev is pretty much the straw that stirs the drink for Vancouver’s third-pairing.
Well Mike Gillis, again, had some good news for the team and their fans on Wednesday afternoon. As it turns out the fact that Tanev’s still in a walking boot might not suggest that he’s all that far away from returning to action:
"[Tanev’s] wearing a boot in order to stabilize the injury that he has. It doesn’t put him further away it’s just a medical technique to ensure he gets the thing settled down and gets the quickest healing process. So it’s really just to immobilize his ankle from flexing so that it’ll heal a bit quicker."
Asked about a timeline for Tanev’s possible return, Mike Gillis seemed pretty bullish opining that Tanev is "going to skate in a couple of days, we’ll see how he does skating, and then that’ll probably be the end of it." That’s great news for those of us who appreciate steady positional play, clean zone-exits and crisp breakout passes (so pretty much every Canucks fan, really).