It looks like Kevin Bieksa’s injury is more serious than originally thought. The defenseman underwent a CT scan yesterday and will likely be out 2-4 weeks, though no there is no official timetable for his return.
“He is out indefinitely,” said Coach Alain Vigneault. We are going to bring the results back to our doctors in Vancouver and make an assessment from there”.
Bieksa was optimistic about a late season return.
“Hopefully, I'll be back a month before playoffs and get ready for that," said Bieksa.
It’s the seventh time in the last month a Canucks defenseman has gone down, and fourth time in the last five games.
“Those are the challenges you're faced with and that’s the one that’s in front of us now,” said Coach Vigneault. “Our guys are going to have to pick up the slack and our kids are going to get an opportunity and our forwards are going to have to help them out and our goaltender is going to have to stop the puck”.
The Canucks have lost 195 man games to injury this season, 120 of them to defenseman.
In Bieksa’s place, the Canucks have recalled defenseman Evan Oberg from Manitoba.
Oberg, who turned 22 yesterday, has played 34 games for the Moose this season, registering six goals and ten assists.
He played two games for the Canucks during the 2009-10 season.
Oberg becomes the 13th defenseman and 37th player to suit up for the Canucks this season. The franchise record of 42 players dressing for the Canucks was set during the 1990-91 season.
GAME DAY: CANUCKS VS. PREDATORS
It's the second of four meetings between the clubs this season. Vancouver (37-12-9) beat Nashville (30-19-8) by a 2-1 score at Rogers Arena on Jan. 26, behind a game winning goal by Lee Sweatt in his NHL debut. The Canucks will hope for a similar result from Evan Oberg, another Manitoba incumbent, making his season debut tonight.
Nashville have played well over the past two months, going 13-6-2 in their last 21 games, moving back into playoff contention after a slow start to the season.
The Canucks are 8-2 in their last 10 and boast a 27-15-3 all time record against the Predators.
This evening’s matchup features the NHL’s top two teams in goals against average. The Canucks, however, are far ahead in the Goals For department, having scored 45 more than the Predators this season.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne has been spectacular for the Predators this season, going 20-14-6, while sitting second in the NHL in both Goals Against Average (2.10) and Save Percentage (.930).
The Canucks are no slouches in the goaltending department either; quietly, Roberto Luongo put together a two month undefeated stretch that ended last Monday against the St Louis Blues. If you take out teh two games against the Blues, Luongo is 20-0-5 over the last three months. He is second in the NHL in wins (27) third in Goals Against Average (.926), and fifth in Goals Against Average (2.24).
“There are eight or nine teams battling for spots right now, most of the teams were playing are in playoff mode, desperate for points, they come out hard and play with that playoff desperation level,” said Luongo.
Nashville sit fourth in the Western Conference this year, a surprise for many who criticized the team’s lack of offensive depth at the beginning of the season. The Predators are winning through team defense and scoring-by-committee; they feature nine different players with at least nine goals this season.
BC born Shea Weber leads the Predators in scoring this season, holding a two point advantage over forward Sergei Kostitsyn. Weber is one of four defensman in the NHL to lead his team The others: Eric Karlsson of the Senators, Keith Yandle of the Coyotes and Dustin Byfuglien of the Thrashers.
Two lineup changes for the Canucks, as Roberto Luongo replaces Cory Schneider in net while Evan Oberg takes Kevin Bieksa’s place on defense.
Oberg will join fellow rookies Chris Tanev and Yann Suave on the back end. It’s the first time the Canucks have dressed three rookie defensemen since November 9th of 2006, when Nathan McIver, Patrick Coulombe and Alex Edler played in a 6-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
After the game the Canucks return home to host the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.