Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Fast Start, Boeser, Injuries among the Story Lines for Canucks in First Half

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Fast Start, Boeser, Injuries among the Story Lines for Canucks in First Half

Article excerpt

Linden reflects on Canucks at midway point


VANCOUVER - Leaning against a dark blue cement wall adorned with a Vancouver Canucks logo in the bowels of Rogers Arena, club president Trevor Linden reflects upon his team as it approaches the midway point of the regular season.

There's the Canucks' surprising start, the play of red-hot rookie sniper Brock Boeser and the avalanche of injuries that have contributed to a recent stretch of two victories in 12 games to send Vancouver tumbling down the standings.

Linden uses the word "challenging" a number of times during the impromptu media availability, especially with regards to the Canucks' current slide that began a month ago when No. 1 centre Bo Horvat went down with a broken foot.

"I look at the positives," Linden, Vancouver's former-captain-turned-executive, said Wednesday. "(Rookie head coach Travis Green) had come in and instilled a system that was really conducive to our group.

"The way our team played was fun to watch and the results were relatively good."

And he's right about that.

Looking like a team that might be turning a corner after missing the playoffs two straight years, the rebuilding Canucks were 14-10-4 and sitting third in the Pacific Division when Horvat limped off against the Carolina Hurricanes in early December.

Checking centre Brandon Sutter was already out with a hip/groin problem that still hasn't healed, but Vancouver was getting by. Then one of Hovat's wingers on the top line, Sven Baertschi, went on the injury list a few games later with a broken jaw before top-pair defenceman Christopher Tanev also found himself on the shelf with a groin issue.

With so many key pieces out, the Canucks' structure began to come apart at the seams, and coupled with the inability of goalies Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson make key saves -- or often even simple ones early in games -- Vancouver is in a 2-9-1 tailspin with its 41st game set for Saturday night in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. …

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