It suddenly became an eventful Wednesday practice for the Vancouver Canucks when forward Nils Höglander left the ice early on and failed to return. Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t have an immediate answer following practice as to a prognosis for ‘Hoagie’ other than to say it’s a lower body injury and the team would evaluate.
Bumped in the corner during a drill in the first few minutes of practice, Höglander appeared to double-over and be suffering from irritation in his groin, core, and hip area.
Tuesday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils, a 6-3 victory for the Canucks, was a relatively solid one for Höglander, who’s ongoing lackadaisical grasp of the 200-foot NHL game almost forced Boudreau to take him out of the line-up earlier in the week. Hoagie received a reprieve on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning when an injury to Elias Pettersson forced the coach’s hand. Höglander and Abbotsford Canucks call-up Sheldon Rempal both played that night.
The 21-year-old Swedish forward reached double figures in goals for the season when he scored his 10th of the campaign at the 10:59 mark of the 1st-period against the Devils. It was Hoagie’s 2nd goal in his last six games after suffering through a 21-game goalless drought between January 1st and March 3rd.
Nic Petan, who made his Vancouver Canucks debut against New Jersey, would be a strong option to replace Höglander if he can’t go Thursday against Detroit.
Pettersson, Hoagie’s 23-year-old star countryman, may miss his third consecutive game on Thursday. Although he practiced with the Canucks on Wednesday, Petterson’s current state of recovery didn’t necessarily leave Boudreau overly encouraged.
“He’s still day-to-day,” Boudreau said, “I mean, he’s probably better suited for the weekend, but we wanted to get him on the ice to see how it was.”
One train of thought could be to rest him again against the struggling Red Wings and bring him back for Saturday’s tilt against the Pacific Division rival Calgary Flames.
Wonky Winged Wheel
Speaking of the Red Wings, the club finds itself stumbling through the doldrums of March, out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference and limping through an 0-5-and-1 stretch that has seen them give up an average of 5.5 goals per game.
Take them lightly? Never. A wounded, young team with seemingly nothing to play for is a dangerous animal. We all know the old saying about ‘assuming’ anything. One thing the Red Wings have shown under head coach Jeff Blashill during this ongoing rebuild is work ethic, led by relentless captain Dylan Larkin.
The Red Wings are just 24-29-and-7 this season but feature two first-year stars in big German defenceman Moritz Seider and Swedish forward Lucas Raymond, 4th and 2nd in NHL rookie scoring respectively.
Demko Takes a Break
Vancouver’s number-one goalie Thatcher Demko, renowned for his work ethic, actually skipped practice on Wednesday, much to the relief of his head coach.
“He didn’t mind at all the fact he wasn’t going on the ice,” Boudreau said. “Today was a total day off, a lot of times he’s not doing a lot but he’ll go out for the half-hour early and get his work done, but it’s a delicate thing to balance his work ethic versus the time off for rest type thing.”
Boudreau generally communicates with Demko via goalie coach Ian Clark.
Demko has started 47 and appeared in 49 of the Vancouver Canucks 61 games this season, with a record of 27-17-and-3, a goals against average of 2.66 and a save percentage at .916%.