Who needs healthy defensemen anyway?
The Vancouver Canucks will be without three of their top-four blue-liners on Monday night when they host the Minnesota Wild, as it has become apparent that defenseman Chris Tanev – who didn’t take to the ice for the warmup skate – will not play.
26-year-old former Harvard Crimson captain Alex Biega will make his NHL debut in Tanev’s stead, while Luca Sbisa presumably jumps up onto the Canucks’ top-pair. It could be a long night.
Tanev, 25, sustained an apparent head injury when he slid into his own net while attempting to catch up to a Johnny Gaudreau breakaway attempt during Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames. While Tanev remained in the game, it was apparent that he was in distress on the bench.
“My head is good,” Tanev said of his status following Vancouver’s gameday skate on Monday.
“Everyone is going to have to play more, everyone is going to have to play better without Alex,” Tanev continued.
Without Tanev, the Canucks will be forced to play with only one top-four caliber defenseman in Dan Hamhuis. Expect him to play a lot, most likely with Sbisa.
One thing to note about the newcomer Biega is that he’s been the number one defenseman for the Utica Comets this season, and they’ve been the American Hockey League’s best puck possession team all year long. Stocky and aggressive, Biega’s offensive production in the AHL is also decent for a stay-at-home blue-liner. He might be a decent short-term depth option. No seriously!
Biega bullishness aside, between him, Sbisa, Adam Clendenning, Ryan Stanton and Yannick Weber it could be a long night for the Canucks goaltender. No wonder Eddie Lack is getting the start.