Vancouver Canucks: Bo Horvat ‘s absence felt in loss to Flyers

VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 7: Sven Baertschi
VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 7: Sven Baertschi /
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Thursday wasn’t kind to the Vancouver Canucks, who will be without Bo Horvat for up to six weeks weeks. Oh, and they played miserably in a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Vancouver Canucks fans can only hope that Thursday was not an indicator of what the Bo Horvat-less squad will look like for the next month or two. If it is, then it’s back on the Race for Rasmus Dahlin train.

Facing a Philadelphia Flyers team that recently lost 10 in a row and played the night before, Vancouver didn’t do much right in any way. They fell 4-1 to the Flyers, and didn’t get much help from the out-of-town scoreboard.

If the Canucks loss wasn’t frustrating enough, how about the Carolina Hurricanes blowing a 4-1 lead to the San Jose Sharks, before losing in overtime? Or both the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings winning in overtime, as usual?

The Canucks have plenty of issues to work around, and the apparent lack of skill and depth at centre stands out the most.  As Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet pointed out, both the Canucks and Anaheim Ducks are without their top two centres, though the Ducks kind of have a championship-caliber group, as he put it.

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Only so many NHL teams can replace the loss of their top centre. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had Evgeni Malkin take over with Sidney Crosby oft-injured. Leon Draisaitl could also replace Connor McDavid, if need be.

Yes, the Canucks have good depth at centre in Brandon Sutter (who’s injured but should return next week), Henrik Sedin and Markus Granlund. But two of those men are used for their two-way games, and the other is 37-year-old, with his best days behind him.

Maybe it was just one game, but it already looks like the Canucks don’t have any centres suitable to replace Horvat. The whole offence just couldn’t get anything going against the Flyers, unless your name happens to be Brock Boeser. Remember, Horvat, Boeser and Sven Baertschi have 32 of this team’s 79 goals.

Yesterday, I wrote how the Canucks still had the centre depth to offset Horvat’s loss. But a Flyers team — that’s not very good defensively — had no problem shutting down the Canucks forwards, which is extremely concerning.

The Canucks also don’t have the depth on defence to transition towards a more conservative style of play. They can’t try to squeeze out the 2-1 or 1-0 decisions; they have to keep up with the opponents.

Vancouver’s schedule doesn’t get any better. Six of their remaining 10 games this month are against teams in the playoff picture. The other four? The Calgary Flames (twice), Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens — who are all right there in the postseason race.

This isn’t 2010 anymore, where the Canucks had a reigning scoring champion version of Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Manny Malhotra as their centres. Bo Horvat is a borderline star, and the others are bottom-six centres on a good team.

Next: Canucks news: Bo Horvat injury, Forbes, Prospects

So are the Canucks going to be a good team without Horvat? Time will tell, but their game against the Flyers suggest more trouble on the horizon.