UPDATED Tuesday, Feb.08.11, 6:43 PM:
Two minutes in to the first period of last night’s matchup against the Ottawa Senators, Keith Ballard twisted his knee while falling awkwardly on a debatable slew foot from Milan Michalek, and did not return.
“It was stiff this morning, got some treatment this afternoon and now we’ll just wait for the MRI,” said Ballard.
Preliminary reports indicated that there wasn't a tear. Canucks GM Mike Gillis confirmed through his Twitter account Tuesday night that Ballard suffered only a sprain.
"Results of Ballard's MRI show a mild knee sprain. He will rehab with our training and medical staff. He is expected to be out 3-4 weeks.”
The Canucks were forced to play a good portion of last night’s game against the Senators with only four defensemen after Aaron Rome received 17 minutes in penalties for fighting Chris Neil late in the first period.
Dan Hamhuis was the team leader, registering 30:32 of ice time, garnering a third star nomination for his hard work.
With the injury to Ballard, rookie defenseman Chris Tanev will likely see an extended stay with the big club, along with some increased playing time. Tanev’s stoic presence on the blue-line will be tested when he plays for the first time without Ballard, his regular defense partner, tomorrow night against the Anaheim Ducks. Tanev is expected to suit up alongside Andrew Alberts on the third pairing.
“It’s definitely a good thing to get another opportunity, but you don’t want to see Ballard go down like that and as long as I’m here I’m gonna keep working hard and do my best,” said Tanev.
“Yeah he (Tanev) has done really well, he is a smart you player, he makes good plays, he has his head up and he seems to be getting stronger every game,” said Mike Gillis.
During practice this morning the team had another scare when Andrew Alberts took a puck in the throat. Alberts was down for a couple of minutes, but eventually got up under his own power.
“The puck hit me in the throat, I couldn’t breathe, but I just had to catch my breath, it felt like I had the wind knocked outta me,” said Alberts.
Help for the banged up Canucks defense corps could be on the way in the form injured defenseman Sami Salo, who will play the final game of his conditioning stint with the Mantioba Moose tonight. Salo has two goals in two games with the Moose, including a game winner against the Wilkes Barrie/Scranton Penguins on Friday night.
“He is moving along slowly, just the way we thought he would, and we’ll see how he does tonight,” said Gillis.
It’s unknown whether Salo will play when the Canucks host the Flames this Saturday night at Rogers Arena.
BOLDUC SENT BACK TO MANITOBA
Vancouver Canucks President and General Manager Mike Gillis announced today that centre Alex Bolduc has been reassigned to the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.
Bolduc, 25, has appeared in 19 games for the Canucks, recording three points (1-2-3).
He scored his first NHL goal on January 2nd in a Canucks 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Bolduc was originally drafted 127th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues and was acquired by Vancouver as a free agent July 2, 2008.
He has missed the last ten games with a shoulder injury, suffered on a face-off during a game against the Washington Capitals on January 14th.
The Canucks have won six in a row for the second time this season and are 21-2-6 since December 5th of last year. The Canucks have not lost in regulation at home in more than two months.
Vancouver now sit nine points up on Detroit for top spot in the Western Conference; a huge lead, considering the 2nd place Red Wings are just nine points ahead of the Flames for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West, with six teams in between them.
Daniel Sedin’s eight game point scoring streak (1-10-11) finally came to an end last night against the Senators. It’s the longest streak by a Canuck this season, seven games shy of the franchise record of 15 shared by Petr Nedved and Todd Bertuzzi.
Roberto Luongo got the win last night against the Senators. He hasn’t lost in regulation over two months, a streak which has seen him go 15-0-5.
Mikael Samuelsson had two goals and one assist last night, continuing his hot play, in a first star performance that extended his point streak to four games. He has four goals and five assists over the span.