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Tortorella defends shot-blocking strategy after Burrows injury

The Vancouver Canucks will be without the services of Alex Burrows for a couple of weeks after the forward was injured blocking a shot in Thursday’s season opening loss to San Jose. (file photo)

ANDY CLARK/REUTERS

Alex Burrows will be out for a couple weeks, after he was injured blocking a shot on opening night, the second Vancouver Canucks forward to be lost to such an ailment in the past month.

It is not even the second game of the year and Vancouver, for various reasons, is already dealing with significant holes in their lineup. Burrows, alongside the suspended Zack Kassian, marks the second top-six forward to be lost.

Burrows dove to block a slap shot on Thursday night in San Jose when the Sharks, in the second period, were on a five-on-three. He limped off the ice and on Friday there was the suggestion he could play for the Canucks Saturday in the home opener against the Edmonton Oilers but on Saturday morning coach John Tortorella announced the winger was out.

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In the preseason, centre Jordan Schroeder was also injured blocking a shot, a hairline fracture in his foot. Burrows's exact injury was not disclosed but he was seen at Rogers Arena in a plastic walking boot on his right foot.

To see two players go down blocking shots, as Tortorella aims to install such a regime in Vancouver when it was mostly absent in recent years, obviously stokes the question of whether the injuries were unnecessary. However, Tortorella insisted such a view is a red herring and that Burrows's move on the five-on-three was an essential part of killing two-man disadvantages.

"You're probably going to ask about 15 questions about shot blocking," said Tortorella Saturday morning. "Alex Burrows made the right play and if he doesn't make that play, we probably never kill another five-on-three here. Don't turn it into that. It was the right play to be made. Injuries happen in a lot of different ways. So we'll continue to try to play defence – not just shot blocking, play defence – the way you're supposed to."

The team will dress only 11 forwards, as the Canucks chose not to recall a player from the minors. Seven defenceman will dress. The injury will probably push Tortorella to relay at least somewhat more on his fourth line, which barely played during Thursday's loss, some three minutes.

Saturday morning's game-day skate was optional and Tortorella declined to say who would play with the Sedin twins, in Burrows's absence. Winger David Booth, who played several shifts with the Sedins in the third period on Thursday, is an option.

Both the Canucks and Oilers enter Saturday night at 0-1, with pressure to avoid starting the year with two losses. Tortorella was asked if there would be some bad blood between the teams, after Kassian broke the jaw of Edmonton's Sam Gagner in the pre-season with a wild high stick. Tortorella insisted the focus was on the game.

"The other stuff, I'm not even going to get involved with," he said. "We're going to try to play the right way and try to win."

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