The Canucks opened the preseason Monday night with a game versus the San Jose Sharks. It went well -- dare I say, suspiciously well. I mean, come on. So the Canucks, the hometown team in the Kraft Hockeyville event held in Colwood, British Columbia, win the game, 1-0? In overtime, the most exciting time? On a game-winner scored by hometown product Adam Cracknell? Suspicious.
I'd claim it was scripted, but no hockey script gives the big, final moment to such a minor character. That'd be like pulling Goldberg so a cold and completely underutilized Julie "the Cat" Gaffney can go one-on-one with tournament Gunnar Stahl. Ha! How stupid would that be?
Plus, if it were scripted, one imagines the Canucks would have cut the scene where Chris Higgins takes a shot to the inside of his foot. But alas, that scene happened, ensuring the Canucks' big win came with a big loss. Here's a GIF of it, from Stephanie, the woman who makes all the GIFs.
higgins injury pic.twitter.com/b4toYP3KXy— Stephanie (@myregularface) September 22, 2015
It has to be a bummer for Higgins, who was seen in a walking boot Tuesday. That's a bad sign. (Really, it's never a good sign when you're seen wearing only one boot. Unless you're Mario.)
But while it's lamentable for Higgins, it's great news for the Canucks' stable of young wingers. Guys like Jake Virtanen, Brendan Gaunce, Alex Grenier, Hunter Shinkaruk, and anyone else who has designs on making the big club out of training camp. These guys should be celebrating -- albeit quietly. You'd hate to be labelled as not a team player, although if you don't make the team, you're not a team player, which means the best way to be a team player is to root for an injury that gives you the opportunity to make the team and play for it, thus, becoming a team player. Hockey is confusing.
Until the injury, there simply wasn't room for a young winger to make the opening-night lineup. The Canucks tipped their hand Tuesday, deploying what will more than likely be their middle-six forwards come October, with Brandon Sutter skating between Radim Vrbata and Sven Baertschi, and Bo Horvat between Jannik Hansen and the aforementioned Higgins. That leaves the Sedins to play with Alex Burrows, and Tuesday night's line of Linden Vey, Brandon Prust, and Derek Dorsett gives an indication of what the Canucks are thinking for line four.
But that leaves zero spots for the children. Unless one opens up. Which, lamentably if you're Higgins and wonderfully if you were drafted in this decade, just happened.
This really does change training camp completely. There's blood in the water now. There's a genuine, bona fide spot up for grabs. But it goes beyond that. This changes the plan completely. Do the Canucks want a kid playing with Hansen and Horvat -- who is also a kid? Or would they prefer to flank Horvat with veterans, and try a youngster with the slightly more experienced Brandon Sutter? Does Linden Vey get a shot to move up? Does one of his wingers?
It's clear from this first series of games that the Canucks have a plan with their forward lines. But now the plan needs to change. (It probably should anyway. I know we're not supposed to read much into exhibition games, let alone the first one, but Baertschi, Sutter and Vrbata had about as much chemistry as my university transcript. If the Canucks feel compelled to try something else, I won't complain. Well. I still might. Complaining is the lifeblood of blogging. But I won't mean it as much.)
Chris Higgins injury is unfortunate. But the silver lining is that training camp just got a little more interesting.