St. Louis Blues' Jay Bouwmeester (19) scores past Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider (35) and Alexander Edler on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, in St. Louis. The Blues won 2-1 in a shootout.
Photograph by: Jeff Roberson, AP
ST. LOUIS – The Vancouver Canucks are not all right. In fact, their defence is now all left.
Defenceman Kevin Bieksa was a surprise lineup scratch due to injury Tuesday night, forcing the National Hockey League team to go with six left-shot defencemen in a 2-1 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Chris Tanev, the only Canuck defenceman besides Bieksa who shoots right-handed, suffered an ankle injury on April 6. Coach Alain Vigneault did not disclose Bieksa's problem but said it is different than the groin injury that forced him to miss seven games earlier in the season.
Bieksa, who completed the Canucks' 5-2 win Monday against the Nashville Predators, is remaining with the team as it completes a five-game road trip Thursday in Dallas.
“What it means is it just gets a little harder to move that puck out of that right corner,” associate coach Rick Bowness, who runs the defence, said of left-shot defencemen filling all three spots on the right side. “It's a challenge until we get Chris back and Kevin back, but we'll survive. We always do.”
Cam Barker, who was waived by the Canucks – but never claimed or reassigned – at the start of April, replaced Bieksa on a pairing with Alex Edler.
“I didn't know what would happen,” Barker, who has played only 10 of 43 games this season, said of his recent job uncertainty. “Obviously, it's not something that was ideal but I feel good about where I am right now and how this team is playing and I'm excited for the stretch run.
“I feel like I can contribute. I felt that all year. I had to wait for my chance and now I need to take advantage of it.”
He logged 17:50 of ice time against the Blues and finished minus-one, victimized by the unseen bounce of the puck from David Perron's neutral-zone lob. While most players were looking for the puck, Jay Bouwmeester skated on to it and scored the tying goal as Edler guarded the pass on a 2-on-1.
“I don't even think the guys on the bench saw it,” Barker said. “Next thing you know, it's behind me. It was a strange play. I thought for the most we played pretty well defensively. Flukey goals like that (happen), but I thought we played a pretty solid game.”
Edler shot through Jannik Hansen's screen to score for the Canucks on the power play, which is suddenly 6-for-22 the last seven games after a 2-for-52 hibernation through the middle of the season.
“It's good for us, good for confidence,” Edler said. “And games like this, when they're not giving up many shots or chances, it's important that the power play can come out and get a goal for us.”
DOOR CLOSED: Canuck chief operating officer Victor de Bonis refused to comment on a report the NHL will award the team an outdoor game against the Ottawa Senators at B.C. Place Stadium next March.
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