Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev will be out of the lineup on Thursday night with an upper-body injury when the Canucks host the San Jose Sharks in a key Pacific Divison matchup. Compounding that issue is that Tanev-lite, Frank Corrado, will also miss the game.
So with Corrado and Tanev joining Kevin Bieksa in the infirmary, Vancouver will be without their three best right-handed shooting defenseman. It would seem that Jim “nostradamus” Benning acquired Adam Clendening just in the nick of the time.
This is a huge loss for the Canucks, particularly when you consider how critical Tanev has been on Vancouver’s top-pair with Alex Edler. Tanev is reportedly battling concussion-like symptoms, according to the News 1130 twitter account, which could be very bad news for the Canucks as they enter a critical stretch of their season.
Tanev, 25, has emerged as one of the NHL”s best penalty killers and is Vancouver’s second best defender by shot attempt differential while logging the second most minutes of any Vancouver blue-liner at even-strength. His play has been a major reason that Vancouver has performed like an above average defensive team this year.
Corrado hasn’t been a regular for Vancouver this season, and though he’s impressed of late, his results have been a bit mixed. For his age he’s a solid heads-up defender though, and his speed from the back-end has been a welcome balm to the usual plodding Canucks breakout.
As a result of these key losses, power-play specialist Yannick Weber will draw back into the lineup, and thankfully he’s been decent in relief for the Canucks this season. Weber and Clendening are going to be Vancouver’s only right-handed shooting defenders on Thursday, which presumably means we’ll see more of Luca Sbisa on his weak side, which is far from ideal.
It’ll be particularly interesting to see how Canucks assistant coach Doug Lidster handles his pairings against the Sharks. Expect him to bring his blender to the bench and mix and match his pairing situationally.
We’ll also be keeping a close eye on Clendening’s usage and minutes. If there was ever going to be a time for the Canucks coaching staff to really test out their new defenseman and see how he fares given an increased level of responsibility, this is it.