Only one player on the Vancouver Canucks has played every single game this season: defenceman Jason Garrison. All other players have missed games due to injury and it has been to the team’s top players.
“I’ve never been in a situation—any year where I’ve coached—where so many of your top guys have gone down,” Canucks head coach John Tortorella said after Sunday’s 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. “Not to wish anything bad on our third or fourth line guys, but sometimes it would be nice if one of them went down and not our top guys, but it’s just been one of those years.”
Former Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault liked to manage the minutes of his players and tried to roll four lines whenever he could. He kept the minutes of Daniel and Henrik Sedin down by keeping them off the penalty kill even though they had done a bit of that under Marc Crawford during the 2005-06 season.
Vigneault would park the Sedins and Ryan Kesler on the bench in the third period once he felt the team had the win in their back pocket, opting to play his third and fourth line players. Older veteran players like Sami Salo and Trevor Linden sat in back-to-back games in order to keep them fresh for the regular season stretch drive and post-season.
He meticulously managed the minutes to say the least. Tortorella had different ideas when he took over as head coach.
John Tortorella has other ideas. He is big on rest and recovery but sees physical convalescence occurring with days off – he promised the Canucks the most of any team in the league. Tortorella’s skeptical that limiting in-game minutes keeps bodies fresh.
“I’m not a big believer in, ‘Holy crap, he played 26 minutes, does he have anything left for Wednesday?’ I don’t buy it,” said Tortorella on Tuesday in Vancouver after practice.
(Both Kesler and general manager Mike Gillis noted the lack of practices has been an issue this season for the Canucks.)
Under Vigneault last season, Kesler was 57th in the league amongst forwards with an average ice-time of 18:57 a game, Henrik was 42nd playing 19:20 a game and Daniel was 54th with 19:01.
This season, Kesler is first in the league this season with an average of 22:08 a game. Henrik is 11th with 20:56 and Daniel is seventh with 21:11. Kesler is averaging over three minutes more than last season, while Daniel and Henrik has been playing 2:10 and 1:36 more.
Is this the reason for the injuries to the team’s top players? Too many minutes and too little time for the body to recuperate?
Henrik had a 679-game iron man streak snapped this season due to a rib injury, causing him to miss eight games and the Olympics in Sochi. Now, he will be out two weeks after suffering a leg injury on Sunday.
Daniel suffered a hamstring injury at the 2014 NHL Heritage Classic on March 2nd against the Ottawa Senators and missed nine games. Kesler suffered a knee injury from a knee-on-knee hit from Winnipeg Jets forward Jim Slater and missed four games.
No doctor, but if you look at the injury that the injuries Henrik, Daniel, and Kesler suffered, they didn’t appear to be from particularly devastating plays. They looked more like injuries from an accumulation of bumps and bruises.
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