The Injury Bug: What’s the latest on the health of Miller, Edler, Tanev, Richardson and Burrows?

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The Vancouver walking wounded Canucks have seen their crop of roster players afflicted by bad injury luck of late. The injury bug can be a Brad Marchand-level pest.

After benefitting from a relatively charmed, injury-free existence early in the year, the Canucks have lost a handful of key top-of-the-roster contributors to a smattering of injuries in recent weeks. The list of players in the infirmary now includes a top-line winger, the Canucks’ entire first pair, their starting goaltender, and their most important penalty-killing forward.

How far away are those players from returning to the lineup? Read past the jump!

Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller was injured when Canucks forward Jannik Hansen lost an edge and barrelled into him on Sunday night during Vancouver’s convincing 4-0 victory over the New York Islanders. With two games remaining on the road trip, Miller was sent home, and he’ll be out of the lineup for the medium-term.

Canucks general manager Jim Benning updated Miller’s status on Wednesday and it would seem that Vancouver’s most frequent starter this season will miss 4-6 weeks with a knee sprain. 

“We’ll just keep looking at it as we go through the process here,” Benning said of Miller’s timeline to return during an appearance on TSN 1040 on Wednesday. “We won’t bring him back, and he won’t be playing, until he’s 100 percent healthy. It looks like it’s going to be that long (4-6 weeks).”

Chris Tanev

Chris Tanev sustained an apparent head injury when he crashed into his own net almost two weeks ago against the Calgary Flames. It was hoped that Tanev would be able to join the Canucks on their current road trip, but with only a historically weak team left on the docket, why bother? 

Benning seems to believe that Tanev will return to the lineup once the Canucks return to Vancouver for a two-game home stand that begins on Sunday.

“(Tanev is) close to playing. He’s been skating all week and stuff. He’s close,” Benning said.

“We get back from Buffalo and then we’ll have a chance to practice for a couple of days before we play our next game, so we’re hoping when we get back, he’ll practice with the team, get a couple of days of practice under his belt, and then he’ll be ready to play. That’s the plan right now. “

That Tanev is skating is a very good sign for the Canucks, especially if he has indeed been dealing with a head injury. Barring a setback, we might reasonably expect to see him back on the ice on Sunday when the Canucks host the Sharks.

Alex Edler

The Canucks have been keeping any specific information regarding Alex Edler’s injury status close to the vest. We sort of know that he’s week-to-week, but we don’t know with what. A body injury, most likely.

Benning framed Edler’s status in optimistic terms, but I think there’s some reason for skepticism. From Benning’s TSN 1040 appearance on Wednesday:

Alex Edler (has) been skating too back home. What we do know is, like 11 o’clock every night, ‘Bernie’ (Canucks head athletic trainer Mike Burnstein) phones back to Vancouver to see how our injured guys did on that particular day. He’s feeling better and better every day, so we’re hoping when we get back that he’ll be able to practice too. And then we’ll just see from there where he’s at and when he’ll get back into the lineup.

It’s a good sign that Edler is skating, but it’s a bit different than it is with Tanev. 

We don’t know what type of ailment Edler is dealing with, but with him the fear will always be his back. 

Edler had a bulging disc that required micro discectomy surgery during the 2011 season. Occasionally back spasms have taken Edler out of the lineup, or have caused him to miss practices over the years. The thing to remember with bulging disc-type injuries in hockey is that they’re notoriously difficult to treat and have a habit of recurring. Often players just manage the pain and inflammation and work to strengthen the muscles in the area of the spine while trying to avoid corrective surgery. 

So in Edler’s case, that he’s taking part in on-ice sessions is a positive sign, but not necessarily a sign of his imminent return. If he’s indeed dealing with a recurrence of his past back issues then being cleared for contact would be the more meaningful indicator.  

Alex Burrows

Alex Burrows sustained a mysterious lower-body injury of some sort in a game against the New York Rangers last week. The club isn’t going to risk playing him against an NHL team in name only like the Sabres, but if we’re reading between the lines, it would seem that he’ll probably be back for Sunday’s key Pacific Division matchup against the San Jose Sharks.

“I don’t think (he’ll play Thursday),” Benning said of Burrows’ status on Wednesday. He’s got an injury where we think it’s going to be precautionary, we don’t want it to get any worse.

“So I don’t think he’ll be in the lineup (Thursday), but when we come back home I think he’ll be ready to get back playing again. So with him it’s day-to-day, and I think by missing a few games now, it’ll help him not miss two weeks of time.”

Now the question is: when Burrows is back, does Zack Kassian remain with the twins?

Brad Richardson

At even-strength Brad Richardson is miscast as an everyday top-nine player. On the other hand, his absence has really served to underscore how valuable he is on the penalty-kill. 

Vancouver’s once elite 4-on-5 unit has been giving up shots on goal at an uncharacteristically high volume since Richardson sustained his injury in mid-January, and has been ventilated with a much greater degree of frequency than we saw in the first four months of the season. It would seem that Richardson is still a week away, at least, from returning to action.

“He’s skating,” Benning said of Richardson’s status. “He got a shot in the foot and that’s always a delicate area to get a shot on.”

Benning proceeded to elaborate on an expected timeline for Richardson’s return.

“I think he’s going to be close too,” said the Canucks executive. “I don’t know that he’ll play the next couple of games at home, but he could.

“So we’re just taking it day-to-day with him, he’s feeling better, he’s out there skating and stuff, but we just want to make sure he’s 100 percent before he comes back.”

Conclusion

The Canucks will likely begin to get some bodies back this weekend, with Burrows and Tanev appearing to be the most likely to return. 

If the Canucks are fortunate Edler and Richardson will get back into the lineup sometime before mid-March, though it’s tough to know for sure, while Miller probably won’t be ready to go until much closer to the postseason.