Just as the long-injured Ryan Kesler returned to the Vancouver Canucks lineup, the team has lost two key players, defenceman Chris Tanev and winger Chris Higgins, for an extended period of time.
The loss of Tanev and Higgins means they join David Booth in convalescence - and the Canucks are now missing three of their main 15 forwards and defenceman, 20 per cent of their primary players. It occurs just as it seemed the ebb-and-flow team was just conjuring crucial momentum ahead of the playoffs.
Tanev, the steady defenceman in his first full pro season who has impressed many, is "out indefinitely," according to Coach Alain Vigneault, in comments midday Tuesday after practice in Vancouver ahead of a five-game roadtrip.
Tanev was injured on Saturday in a game against the Calgary Flames, hobbling off with something that looked like a knee or an ankle injury.
On Tuesday, Vigneault was already in "playoff mode" and cryptically called Tanev's injury "lower body," the same description he gave to Higgins's injury. Higgins was hurt on Monday night during a game he finished and had played with an inspired effort.
Neither Tanev nor Higgins will be on the Canucks's five-game roadtrip. Asked whether Higgins would be back for the playoffs, Vigneault was not fast with an answer and said, "Hopefully." The diagnosis for Tanev was more dire, with the "out indefinitely."