If I had to pick a “most resilient” team for the 2009-10 season, it would probably be the Phoenix Coyotes, but the Vancouver Canucks aren’t far behind. They’ve dealt with a historic road trip, the unexpected struggles of their “captain”/goalie Roberto Luongo and the loss of key defenseman Willie Mitchell. But at least one writer – Ian Macintyre of the Vancouver Sun – thinks that an injury to another Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff might be a “fatal” blow to the team’s playoff hopes.
Nearly three months after the hit, Willie Mitchell still has a headache. Now, the Vancouver Canucks have one, too.
Christian Ehrhoff’s sprained knee is a potentially critical blow to the Canucks, who were able to survive the severe concussion suffered by Mitchell on Jan. 16 but are ill-equipped to handle another major injury on their defence. Not with the National Hockey League playoffs starting next Wednesday.
After following his up-and-down years as a member of the San Jose Sharks, it’s baffling to read a Chicken Little article regarding the loss of Ehrhoff. Really, that guy? The one whose scalding slapper was more likely to miss the net/break glass/hit a spectator than create a meaningful scoring chance? The dude who was often clueless in his own end? That Christian Ehrhoff?
To be fair, the German defenseman is playing stunningly well this season (putting up – for him – a typical 43 points with a very atypical +33 after going -12 last year) and Macintyre makes a good argument that the team’s mid-to-lower ranking D guys struggle when given extra minutes. Still, it sounds like the injury isn’t that severe so perhaps it will be a moot point.
Either way, I feel pretty confident that if Vancouver flounders it will be for some other reason. This team has shown some real moxie; it wouldn’t shock me if they ended up raising the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history this summer. No doubt about it, it might be more difficult without Ehrhoff but this team has been scaling some rugged mountains this season.
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.