Coach Alain Vigneault revealed on Tuesday that forward David Booth is out four to six weeks with a strained groin, which was confirmed by an MRI. Combine that with Ryan Kesler being out of the lineup to start the season, and the Canucks’ second line has exploded days before opening night.
Said Vigneault today, via the Canucks:
"I believe we are capable of putting four strong lines on the ice. It's what we're going to do.”
Mason Raymond, a.k.a. the Opposite of Name-Dropping, is the only healthy body from the Canucks’ second line last season, and doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Kesler’s replacement was expected to be either Andrew Ebbett or Jordan Schroeder until the Selke contender is recovered from two offseason surgeries. As for Booth’s spot, it could come down to Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins or Zack Kassian.
In other words, the Canucks’ first line just received more slack to pick up.
The prospect of starting the season with a makeshift second line will only add to the pressure on Henrik and Daniel Sedin and linemate Alex Burrows to shoulder the bulk of the offensive load. "It has always been like that," Henrik said Monday. "That's nothing new for us. We are here to score goals and if we don't we usually lose games. That's not going to change this year, so that's where we are."
In an 82-game season, a month without Booth and Kesler could be overcome. In a 48-game sprint to the playoffs, a month without a second line could hinder a fast start for Vancouver – and every team in the West needs one if they’re going to contend.
(Might this hasten a Roberto Luongo trade? The Canucks were seeking an NHL top sixer and a top prospect, reportedly.)
As for Booth, there’s been talk that his offseason of hunting and outdoorsman activities could have contributed to the injury. There have also been accusations in the past that he over-trains in the offseason, leaving his body more susceptible to injury.
We suppose the Canucks should be happy it was just a groin injury, and not Booth getting mauled by a narwhal or something … as unintentionally hilarious as that may have been.