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Are the Canucks in trouble without Ehrhoff?

Apr 6, 2010, 2:20 PM EDT

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ehrhoff2.jpgIf I had to pick a “most resilient” team for the 2009-10 season, it would probably be the Phoenix Coyotes, but the Vancouver Canucks aren’t far behind. They’ve dealt with a historic road trip, the unexpected struggles of their “captain”/goalie Roberto Luongo and the loss of key defenseman Willie Mitchell. But at least one writer – Ian Macintyre of the Vancouver Sun – thinks that an injury to another Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff might be a “fatal” blow to the team’s playoff hopes.

Nearly three months after the hit, Willie Mitchell still has a headache. Now, the Vancouver Canucks have one, too.

Christian Ehrhoff’s sprained knee is a potentially critical blow to the Canucks, who were able to survive the severe concussion suffered by Mitchell on Jan. 16 but are ill-equipped to handle another major injury on their defence. Not with the National Hockey League playoffs starting next Wednesday.

After following his up-and-down years as a member of the San Jose Sharks, it’s baffling to read a Chicken Little article regarding the loss of Ehrhoff. Really, that guy? The one whose scalding slapper was more likely to miss the net/break glass/hit a spectator than create a meaningful scoring chance? The dude who was often clueless in his own end? That Christian Ehrhoff?

To be fair, the German defenseman is playing stunningly well this season (putting up – for him – a typical 43 points with a very atypical +33 after going -12 last year) and Macintyre makes a good argument that the team’s mid-to-lower ranking D guys struggle when given extra minutes. Still, it sounds like the injury isn’t that severe so perhaps it will be a moot point.

Either way, I feel pretty confident that if Vancouver flounders it will be for some other reason. This team has shown some real moxie; it wouldn’t shock me if they ended up raising the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history this summer. No doubt about it, it might be more difficult without Ehrhoff but this team has been scaling some rugged mountains this season.

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