With the Vancouver Canucks set to resume their schedule Wednesday, the injury bug may have claimed another victim.
There is concern for second-line centre Ryan Kesler, who returned to Vancouver after competing for the U.S. team in Sochi, and is now listed as day-to-day with a possible hand injury suffered blocking a shot during the Olympic tournament.
Head coach John Tortorella confirmed to reporters Kesler would be going for tests, including an MRI, and that he’d be re-evaluated again on Tuesday. It’s not yet known if he’ll be ready to play Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues at Rogers Arena.
“We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” said Tortorella.
“I’m not overly worried about him missing a couple of days of practice. We’ll still have the morning skate on Wednesday for him to get back on the ice.”
There is the possibility the Canucks could be without their top two centres against the Blues. Henrik Sedin, who had been dealing with a rib injury before the Olympic break, did not take part in Monday’s practice due to personal reasons.
Sedin won’t skate tomorrow either, according to Tortorella, who was hopeful his captain would be able to play Wednesday.
Alex Burrows and Chris Tanev reportedly skated on their own prior to the team practice. Tanev, out with a thumb injury, is doubtful for Wednesday, said Tortorella.
Defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who has been dealing with a foot injury causing him to miss the last five games, did not skate Monday, but walked by a gathering of reporters seated at Rogers Arena after doing some off-ice work with skills coach Glenn Carnegie.
Bieksa is still on the injured reserved list.
“We just wanted to give him another day off,” said Tortorella.
“Our whole mindset is trying to get him ready to … start with us Wednesday, so we figured an extra day would help him.”
The Canucks recalled towering centre Kellan Lain from the Utica Comets of the AHL. He is expected to play mostly on the fourth line.
The Canucks come out of the Olympic break with 22 games remaining on their schedule. January was a disastrous month, with the team winning just four times in 15 games. February hasn’t been any better, with four straight losses before the NHL shut down operations for two weeks.
As a result of their struggles, with everything from injuries, slumps to once prolific scorers Burrows and Daniel Sedin, and inability to hold onto leads, the Canucks have fallen out of the top-eight teams in the Western Conference.
They sit 10th, one point out of a playoff spot. Adding even more drama to this team’s current swoon is the upcoming NHL trade deadline, which falls on March 5. The Canucks, with 10 players with either no-trade or no-movement clauses, have four games before that date.
Canucks general manager Mike Gillis, speaking on Team 1040, hinted at trying to add another top-six forward before the deadline.
“We would love to get another player to play with Ryan and to play on our second line,” said Gillis.
“But you have to give up an awful lot to get those things and we’re going to have to make a decision that that’s the route we’re going to go or we’re going to develop our own.”