Canucks, Canadiens missing key players

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Hockey fans in Vancouver often buy their tickets for games between the Canucks and Montreal Canadiens well in advance.

However, many fans probably wished they had waited before doling out the bucks for the Tuesday night contest. Both clubs will be missing key players due to injuries when they face off at Rogers Arena.

Canadiens coach Claude Julien revealed that top defenseman Shea Weber will not play due to a foot injury. Meanwhile, the Canucks could be without top scorer Brock Boeser and one of their best defensemen, Chris Tanev, while others definitely will miss the game.

“Shea (Weber) has a problem with his foot that’s not getting better,” Julien said after a practice Monday in Vancouver. “We’re sending him back to Montreal so our doctors can take a look at him.”

The Canadiens decided not to call up a defenseman even though they are reduced to six rearguards. Weber’s blue-line partner, 19-year-old rookie Victor Mete, is away with Canada’s world junior championship team.

Boeser, 20, who is considered a strong candidate for NHL rookie of the year, was hurt while blocking a Mark Giordano shot Sunday in Vancouver’s 6-1 loss to the Calgary Flames.

Boeser left the arena on crutches and sporting a walking boot. The Canucks called up Reid Boucher from their AHL farm club in Utica, N.Y., on Monday as an apparent replacement. However, according to a radio report, Boeser did not sustain a fracture.

Tanev missed the Sunday game due to an undisclosed injury sustained last week against the Nashville Predators. Even so, the Canucks returned defenseman Ashton Sautner to Utica on Monday.

The Canucks also have been without injured top center Bo Horvat (foot), winger Sven Baertschi (undisclosed) and Erik Gudbranson (wrist) lately, and winger Derek Dorsett’s career-ending neck injury in November continues to haunt the team. Yet coach Travis Green is confident that his players will not dwell on the misfortune.

“Guys believe in themselves,” Green said. “No one wants a teammate to get hurt. Guys are aware of where we are at with injuries, but they also know it’s opportunity as well, and they look forward to those challenges. Each individual, they want opportunity.”

As suspense builds over the injured players, the Canadiens and Canucks will try to bounce back from one-sided losses to struggling teams. Montreal was blanked 3-0 by the struggling Ottawa Senators on Saturday in an outdoor game in Canada’s capital. Vancouver’s dreadful effort Sunday resulted in the Flames earning only their third win in eight games — with two coming against the Canucks.

The Sunday setback was Vancouver’s third lopsided loss in four games.

“We don’t want to lose like that at home ever,” Canucks winger Jake Virtanen said. “We have to be able to play a full 60 minutes and be able to make an impact all the time, every shift and every line. It can’t just be certain lines. It’s got to be a group.”

Meanwhile, Julien tried to help his club get better by adjusting his line combinations in practice Monday.

“Every once in a while, you try to shake things up,” Julien said. “I didn’t mind what I saw today in our lines. You shake things up, but it still boils down to our will and desire. We’ve shown the ability to play some real good hockey games, but we haven’t shown the ability to be consistent, night in and night out.”

The Canucks, who went 1-5-0 in their past six games while being outscored 26-6 in that span, are also looking for more consistency. They also need to improve on poor home record (6-8-3) as they try to win without their injured players.

“We know what it takes to win,” Vancouver winger Daniel Sedin said. “We have to play the system. We need every guy now to play it — and do a really good job.”