The Canucks received a bit of good news on Monday, as further examination of his foot injury suffered by blocking a Mark Giordano shot in Sunday’s 6-1 loss to the Calgary Flames isn’t going to keep him out of the lineup long-term.
Most feared, rightly, that Boeser had broken his foot. A video surfaced showing the trainer telling Canucks head coach Travis Green that Boeser “couldn’t put any weight on [his foot]” or so it seemed. Boeser didn’t return to the game and was spotted with a pair of crutches.
All signs pointed to a break or a fracture and a long-term absence from the lineup. Instead, it’s just a bone contusion, and per Canucks general manager Jim Benning, it’s more of a day-to-day ailment than a week-to-week type of injury.
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) December 19, 2017
For now, though, Boeser being on the shelf alongside Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi means the Canucks are without their entire first-line. Add the fact that Green’s favourite match-up pair, Brandon Sutter and Derek Dorsett have been out since about mid-November, and only one of them is expected to return to the lineup, though when that happens is uncertain.
And what of the blue line? It’s no better. Chris Tanev is nursing a groin strain and is out for another two weeks in all likelihood, and Erik Gudbranson’s been on the shelf since about early-November with an upper-body injury of his own.
In essence, the Canucks are without all their most relied upon players to score goals and to keep goals from their own net.
The Canucks as a team have scored 88 goals this season, the 22nd most in the NHL. They’re currently missing the players responsible for more than half of them (46 goals, to be exact). And they don’t have their lowest goals against per hour player (Gudbranson) either.
Fortunately, there’s a website that tracks the impact of injuries on teams from every major sports league, including the NHL. It’s called ManGamesLost (warning, there is a paywall) and they go into major detail.
In their own words, “The Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres have faced the greatest cumulative impact of injured forwards or defensemen by the IIT-skater metric.” The Canucks currently sport a 944.70 mark by that metric, good (or bad?) for first in the entire NHL by a margin of over 20 points.
ManGamesLost describes IIT as:
IIT (Injury Impact to Team) used to be called TMITT (Time Missed Impact To Team), which frankly was too many letters for some people to handle. Yes, it’s true. So, TMITT was renamed IIT.
IIT is a single-value metric that attempts to quantify the impact of a player not playing for their team due to injury.
Looking strictly at man-games lost, the Canucks are eighth in the league, which isn’t exactly encouraging, but does paint things in a less bleak light, depending on your perspective.
For the Canucks, who lack star power and significant depth behind it, losing their one line that’s been consistently productive offensively is more devastating relative to how other teams would cope with this.
In the nine games the Canucks have played since losing Horvat alone, they’ve scored more than two goals once. They’re averaging 1.5 goals a game in that span. Meanwhile, they’re surrendering six goals a game. Their penalty kill hasn’t blanked the opposition even once since that December 5th game against the Carolina Hurricanes, either.
It’s an ugly way for a season that at one time had so much promise (all things being relative here) to go into the dumps. But what are the Canucks to do? Sometimes, the injury bug hits and keeps hitting, and you just have to roll with the punches.
The good news is, Benning doesn’t seem wont to part with picks or young players to find a quick fix. That news should be especially comforting to Canucks fans in light of the recent news that the Canucks are in the mix for a top-nine forward.
And hell, maybe this is the opportunity that players like Nikolay Goldobin and Reid Boucher need to cement themselves as full-time NHL’ers. I’m sure they aren’t too thrilled about the circumstances that have facilitated their return trip to the NHL, but now it’s up to them to make the most of it.
It could be worse, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the moment. Then again, that’s not something Canucks fans need to hear, is it?