Travis Green called it a “small injury” on Tuesday night, but reports are coming out Thursday morning that suggest Bo Horvat’s injury is a lot bigger than expected.
Horvat left Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes in the third period with what appeared to be an injury to his right leg. He appeared to hit a rut in the ice while going into the boards. On Wednesday, Horvat went for an MRI on his leg and apparently the news was not good.
Hearing timeline for this is closer to six weeks for Horvat. So, yes, not good. https://t.co/BwnExjmVhc— Irfaan Gaffar (@sportsnetirf) December 7, 2017
Six weeks means that Horvat would miss at least 17 games, but it's not confirmed just yet. According to Bob McKenzie, Horvat has a fractured ankle (according to Green it's a fractured foot) and the exact amount of time he'll miss will have to wait until a specialist looks at the extent of the fracture.
Bo Horvat’s injury is a fracture (ankle). No precise timeline yet until a specialist reviews the imaging. Obviously, week to week.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 7, 2017
There’s no getting around it: this is devastating for the Canucks. Horvat is arguably the Canucks’ most important player, racking up big minutes in every situation. He’s on the first power play unit, has been first over the boards on the penalty kill with Brandon Sutter injured, and leads all Canucks forwards in even-strength ice time as well.
Heck, we just talked about how Horvat is pretty much the only centre that Travis Green trusts to win faceoffs.
Horvat’s excellent play has helped give the Canucks a legitimate first line as the Sedins settle into a secondary role. He’s second in both goals and points behind Brock Boeser and has played a big role in Boeser’s hot start and potential Calder run.
Can the Canucks survive 17 games without Horvat? It will largely depend on the veterans.
The Canucks have called up Michael Chaput from Utica, which gives them some more depth at centre to help on the penalty kill, but does nothing for them in terms of scoring. For that, they’ll likely have to depend on Sam Gagner to fill in as a centre in the top-six.
That’s not great news — Gagner has just 3 goals and 11 points this season — but there are some indications that Gagner could break through. Gagner is actually third on the Canucks in shots behind Boeser and Horvat, but is carrying an absurdly low 4.9% shooting percentage, way below his career average of 9.6%.
His on-ice shooting percentage is even lower at 3.75%, ahead of only Brendan Gaunce on the Canucks. In fact, just three forwards in the entire NHL have played at least 300 minutes and have a lower shooting percentage than Gagner. At some point, Gagner’s luck is likely to change.
As for the rest, the Canucks have actually been getting excellent production from their veterans of late.
Over the last 10 games, Brock Boeser is still leading the Canucks in scoring by virtue of his 8 goals, but Henrik Sedin has tied him in points, followed closely by Loui Eriksson, Daniel Sedin, and Thomas Vanek. Horvat actually only has 5 points in his last 10 games.
So yes, Horvat’s injury is brutal news for the Canucks, who will be hardpressed to cover his minutes, but there is a sliver of hope. If the Sedins and Eriksson can continue to produce at their current rate, Vanek continue to quietly kick in points, and Gagner get some regression to help out his own production, the Canucks might just be able to survive over the next six weeks.