It was two weeks ago to the day in this very same venue that Byron Bitz
played on a line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin
for Vancouver at Bridgestone Arena and earned a goal and an assist -- his first points in the NHL in almost two years -- in a 4-3 shootout win.
Bitz, a big forward, played in seven straight games for the Canucks, picking up a goal and three assists and coach Alain Vigneault
liked what he saw. However, Bitz began experiencing soreness in his hip and was scratched for Vancouver's last game, Sunday in Edmonton, raising potential alarm bells about the player's health.
Groin, hip and abdominal injuries have been a frequent problem for Bitz during his hockey career. Vigneault said Tuesday that Bitz had "some improvement on his hip flexor today" and was hoping he might be able to practice Wednesday.
Vigneault said Bitz's injury history is making the situation "a little more challenging for him and for us right now," but he did not want to overreact on the chance that it might be "real minor."
"I think on his part, on a personal level, there has to be some concern," Vigneault said. "He's played a couple of games in Chicago (AHL) and he comes here and then he plays five games then all of a sudden, the body feels some pain and then he can't play anymore.
"For us, it's a big question. The young man was playing really well, really liked his contribution, and after five games he's got to sit out a couple of days. We believe we still have a lot of hockey to be played here, so we'll see how this goes here in the next couple of days."