There are a lot of drawbacks to coming painfully close to winning the Stanley Cup, but the lingering effects of the literal pain that comes with a deep playoff run might be one of the most underrated issues. The Vancouver Canucks were a banged up team late in the 2011 playoffs and the largely unchanged club will have to come back from injuries in what Ian MacIntyre points out is the shortest off-season in franchise history.
While the team might need to adjust to life without Ryan Kesler for training camp and perhaps the beginning of the regular season, other players hope to shake off their own ailments. MacIntyre caught up with Mikael Samuelsson, Marco Sturm and Alex Edler, the only veterans of eight Canucks skaters participating in an informal skating session as they try to shake off injuries. MacIntyre notes that almost double the number of veterans get things started early during most summers when there is a longer layoff.
Samuelsson saw his playoff run cut short once he was forced to undergo abdominal surgery, but he seemed optimistic about his recovery. Edler played through the pain of having two broken fingers and admitted that he’ll get them re-evaluated since they’re still causing him issues.
Canuck general manager Mike Gillis cautioned last week it would “take time” for players to get back to work.
But the late arrivals, short turnaround time and several injuries migrating from last season to this one – Edler, for example, said Monday two fingers broken in the final still haven’t fully healed and he will be re-evaluated next week – make you wonder if Stanley Cup hangovers afflict only the victorious.
Will the Canucks be behind other teams when the season starts?
“I don’t think so,” Samuelsson said. “Let’s see how we respond this year. Where I was before, guys, myself included, really wanted to get back on a winning note. I don’t think we can have less expectations this year. It’s not easy to go to the finals, but we know we’re one of seven or eight teams that is really good.
“When you feel you have a chance to do something and you have a good team, that’s when in my mind you’re eager. ‘We’re going to go to the finals again’ – that’s maybe not the right approach. You take one step at a time. Start off with a good training camp.”
The Canucks’ schedule might lend itself to some feelings of a hangover when it might just boil down to a tough start. Four of their first five games are on the road, although that’s followed by five of six in Vancouver. The toughest stretch of the early season comes in the beginning of November, though, as they play six consecutive road games against Western Conference opponents. Vancouver should be in good shape if they can be successful during that run and also survive a tracherous February schedule that starts with a four game road run and then finishes with six consecutive games away from Vancouver.
The good news is that the team hasn’t lost many players, but that also means that few players will be well-rested. There won’t be much of an injection of new blood, a problem that’s even more pronounced when you consider the injury history of newly added forward Sturm.
Then again, the Canucks have rolled with the punches from injuries and tough scheduling in recent years, so there’s reason to believe this season won’t be any different. That being said, it might be tough for this team to put together the kind of dominant regular season that they pulled off in 2010-11.
Vancouver should have bigger picture goals than producing another outstanding regular season anyway, though.
(H/T to Rotoworld.)