Slumping Canucks battling injury bug

VANCOUVER – The slumping Vancouver Canucks could be without several key players as they look to end a three-game losing streak while battling for a playoff spot.

Defencemen Quinn Hughes and Tyler Myers plus forward Jay Beagle all missed practice Tuesday. Hughes, a contender for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year, skated by himself after the rest of the team left the ice.

“Banged up,” replied head coach Travis Green when asked about the missing players.

All three are listed as day to day.

Vancouver plays the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks have recalled defencemen Guillaume Brisebois and Jalen Chatfield from Utica of the American Hockey League under emergency conditions.

The Canucks also announced forward Justin Bailey has been reassigned to Utica.

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Vancouver, which has just two wins in its last seven games, already was dealing with injuries to goaltender Jacob Markstrom and forward Brock Boeser.

Markstrom has missed four games with what the Canucks have called a “minor lower body procedure.” It’s believed he is dealing with a minor meniscus tear in one of his knees.

Boeser, Vancouver’s fifth leading scorer with 16 goals and 29 assists for 45 points, has been sidelined nine games with a rib cartilage fracture.

The latest injuries come just as Vancouver limped home after losing three of four games on an eastern road trip. The Canucks lost 5-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets Sunday in a game where they held a two-goal lead late in the third period.

“We’ve had a crappy week here,” said veteran forward Brandon Sutter. “It sucks it’s this time of year.

“We are playing a lot of hockey. Every team has different things. We have to step up and keep playing.”

Heading into Tuesday night, the Canucks (34-25-6) held down the first wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference. They trailed Calgary by one point and were two ahead of Nashville, Winnipeg and Arizona.

Green called the loss in Columbus “a good learning experience” for a Vancouver team that has missed the playoffs four consecutive seasons.

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“In March, you get close to the playoffs, the heat of the game can change fast,” he said. “Much like the playoffs, you’ve got to have a short-term memory . . . learn from it and move on.”

Captain Bo Horvat said a win against Arizona would help erase some of the frustration over the loss to Columbus.

“It’s a big game,” said Horvat. “Those guys have been playing well.

“These are big points to get. They are easy games to get up for. We know how important they are.”

Just a month ago the Canucks looked to have a comfortable grasp on a playoff spot, but the recent losing streak has sent a ripple of concern through Vancouver fans.

Defenceman Troy Stecher said there is no panic in the dressing room.

“People can overreact, that’s fine with us,” said Stecher. “Within this room, we stay even keeled. We understand there is a bigger picture involved.

“We still have confidence in our group and confidence in each other that we are going to go out there and get the results we want.”

Hughes leads all NHL rookies with 51 points and 43 assists in 64 games. He took a hit midway through the third period of the loss to the Blue Jackets.

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Myers has six goals and 15 assists in 65 games. Beagle, a defensive forward, has two goals and six assists in 55 games.

Brisebois has four goals and 11 assists in 47 games with Utica this season.

Markstrom has a 23-16-0-4 record, a 2.75 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Chatfield has four assists in 46 games with Vancouver’s AHL team this season.

Bailey has no points in two games with Vancouver, and 27 goals and 18 assists in 49 games with Utica.

This story by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2020.

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