Vancouver Canucks Week 10 Injury Report: Hitting the Road Hamhuis-less


After wrapping up their four-game homestand, the Vancouver Canucks hit the road for a six-game road trip with much defence and physicality on the injured list.

The Vancouver Canucks got some much-needed defence back from the injury reserve this past week. Defencemen Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton both returned to the lineup after their relatively short-lived stay on the injury shelves. But now with D Dan Hamhuis, RW Jake Virtanen and D Luca Sbisa all out in addition to C Brandon Sutter, the Canucks will look to grind out some points on yet another long road trip.

Over the next seven days, the Canucks will play the Chicago Blackhawks, the Minnesota Wild, and then on back-to-back nights face the Philadelphia Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings. All four teams are ahead of them in the standings, with the exception to the Flyers who are tied.

However, there is one stat category that the Canucks are close to all three teams in. Hits. The Blackhawks, the Wild, and the Red Wings are three of the league’s least physical teams. Of course, the Canucks find themselves in the mix as well. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt to have the Canucks bull over the Blackhawks and the Wild.

But much of the physicality will be unavailable. Sbisa and Virtanen are both out with injuries, for about a week or so. Expect them to join the team in the middle of the six-game road trip. Of course, another large body, Brandon Sutter, is out for at least a month after his sports hernia injury. The hole in the second line has cost the Canucks dearly.

Jake Virtanen finds himself in Utica for a conditioning stint. It is an opportunity for him, not only to recover from his hip injury, but to regain his scoring confidence. The Canuck rookie only had a goal and three assists in 19 NHL games this season, and the Canucks would very much love to have his physicality back, alongside his scoring touch.

Virtanen is scheduled to return to the lineup against the Wild. He sure will be welcomed back on Monday, on the second night of back to backs.

Also for Jake Virtanen, the decision to go to the World Junior Championships looms nearer. GM Jim Benning has to make his decision by next week, on whether Virtanen and Jared McCann head overseas to play for Team Canada.

Related: RW Jake Virtanen needs to head to the World Juniors

Sbisa, the 6-foot-2, 198-pound defenceman has been out since December 3rd, with an injury to his hand. His physicality will be missed on this road trip.

With the Prust-Cracknell-Dorsett line making headlines for Vancouver, the team should not be too worried about physicality up front. The “fourth line” will suffice for the lack of Virtanen.

As for Sbisa, his absence has been filled admirably by Alex Biega, who continues to be a steady regular NHL player during his call-ups. With his contract running out next year, Biega surely is making a case for himself to stay with the Canucks and play in the top six regularly.

Perhaps the biggest blow to the team: Dan Hamhuis

After taking a slap shot to his lower facial area, Dan Hamhuis is expected to be out for a while. According to the Canucks’ official Twitter page, Hamhuis will undergo surgery on Friday.

Though the veteran defenceman has been getting the shorter end of the stick lately, his play and experience are still valuable to the young Canucks. With this loss being long-term, Vancouver might have to recall Taylor Fedun or Andrey Pedan.

This is a massive blow to the team, already missing its top defensive forward in Sutter, and a top-six defenceman in Sbisa. Wishing all the best to Hammer, though I have ripped him apart on more than one occasion.

Next: 15 Thoughts as Canucks show hope in 2-1 Win over NY Rangers

So, can the Vancouver Canucks keep up the pressure on the road as they have late in their latest homestand? There is no Hamhuis, no Virtanen, no Sbisa, and no Sutter. Time will tell.