The Vancouver Canucks breathed easy when they learned that Christian Ehrhoff's knee injury is not serious.
The defenceman, officially listed as day-to-day, is still awaiting the result of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan performed Monday, and will not dress against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. But head coach Alain Vigneault said that Ehrhoff isn't far off playing, and should return for the Stanley Cup playoffs next week.
"I don't see anything serious there," Vigneault said. "If this was a playoff game, he might play tonight. It's not a big deal."
But that piece of good news was offset by some bad.
Fourth line centre Ryan Johnson suffered a broken foot while blocking a shot on Sunday, and is lost for four to six weeks. That means Johnson will miss Vancouver's first-round playoff series against either Detroit, Nashville or Los Angeles.
Ehrhoff will be replaced by Shane O'Brien, while winger Steve Bernier, who has missed 16 games with a sports hernia, circles back into the lineup for Johnson. Vancouver was expected to recall a forward from the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League for depth purposes.
"We're looking at different options right now," Vigneault said. "It's unfortunate. Ryan was playing his best hockey of the season."
Johnson plays more penalty-killing minutes than any Vancouver forward, and that's where he will be missed most.
Vigneault said that Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen will log more shorthanded ice time behind stalwarts Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. He said he never worries about overusing Kesler, and that Burrows should be able to kill more penalties because he is no longer being used on the power play. Vigneault added that Pavol Demitra may be called upon to win some face-offs on the left side of the ice, where he excels in the circle.
At even strength, Rick Rypien will slide over from wing and play centre in Johnson's place, but that is a proposition fraught with a face-off problem. Rypien is winning less than 43 per cent of his draws.
"He has played centre most of his career," Vigneault said. "But his face-off percentage is not where it needs to be to be a consistent centremen, so he's working on that."
The Avalanche, who finished 28th overall last year, can clinch a playoff spot with a victory and a Calgary Flames loss in regulation. The Flames, who are chasing the Avalanche for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference, play host to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.