Another game, and another defenceman goes down with an injury.
Such as been the Vancouver Canucks recent plight, and it continued Wednesday in a 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena.
Dan Hamhuis left the game in the third period after taking a hellacious hit from Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf behind the Vancouver goal. The Smithers, B.C. native immediately dropped onto his back, with his limbs stretched out like a starfish.
Getzlaf left his feet and followed through with his shoulder and elbow to the back, which drove Hamhuis's head against the glass. Hamhuis needed some assistance to leave the ice surface, and looked disoriented, but no Canuck took issue with the check after the game. Most Canucks, including head coach Alain Vigneault, claimed that they had not seen it.
"He obviously bonked his head," Kevin Bieksa said of his defence partner. "Another day, another game, another guy goes down on defence. Nothing you can do about that. It's just bad luck."
Vigneault said Hamhuis seemed fine after the game, showed no concussion-like symptoms, and could perhaps return later this week. He said Hamhuis's face had a "big red mark" from where it struck the glass, and did not lose consciousness.
"This is a physical game," he said. "It's a big man hitting a defenceman. It's part of the game."
Getzlaf, who was returning from a 14-game absence because of nasal fractures, said he wished Hamhuis the best and did not intend to hurt him. He called it "an unfortunate accident."
"He turned as he made his pass," Getzlaf said. "He was well aware that I was coming from what I can tell. And I watched the video, and that's what I saw. Like I said, it's unfortunate."
The Canucks lost Keith Ballard to a sprained knee in Monday's victory over the Ottawa Senators. They are without Alexander Edler (back surgery), Sami Salo (torn Achilles tendon), and Lee Sweatt (broken foot).
Salo has returned to the team after a three-game rehabilitation stint in the minor leagues, and is expected to make his 2010-11 season debut Saturday against the Calgary Flames. Salo will practise with the team Friday.
If Hamhuis cannot play, the Canucks will likely keep rookie Chris Tanev in the lineup. Tanev, 21, has played nine games, and hasn't looked out of place despite being just two years removed from tier-two junior hockey.
He has been seldom used on special teams, but may be required to take Hamhuis's spot on penalty-killing units. Tanev wasn't used in man-advantage situations with the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose earlier this season, so the Canucks would likely need a new point man for the second power-play unit.