Alex Burrows Injured Blocking Shot, John Tortorella Denies Criticism of Defensive Scheme, Says ‘It Was the Right Play’

tortorellaIn hockey, two things are certain: injuries and John Tortorella‘s testy press conferences. Only three games into the Vancouver Canucks’ season, both are in play.

Agitating, high-scoring winger Alex Burrows was injured in the Canucks’ season opener against the San Jose Sharks when he dove to block a slap shot during a five-on-three, though the full extent of his injury wasn’t made public until Saturday. Burrows will be out “a couple weeks” according to David Ebner of the Globe and Mail, but now some in the Vancouver media are questioning if the injury was necessary at all.

Burrows is the second Canuck to be injured this season from Tortorella’s insistence on shot blocking. Center Jordan Schroeder suffered a hairline fracture in his foot during the preseason.  These injuries, along with the absence of Zack Kassian, who’s in the midst of a five-game suspension, will cause Vancouver to suit only 11 forwards for the time being.

Peppered with questions from the frenetic Vancouver media, Tortorella deflected any and all criticism of his defensive strategy. ““You’re probably going to ask about 15 questions about shot blocking,” he said after the Burrows injury went public. “[He] made the right play and if he doesn’t make that play, we probably never kill another five-on-three here. Don’t turn it into that.”

In Tortorella’s defense, it’s a bit too late for the Vancouver media to begin hemming and hawing about the consequences of his reliance on shot blocking. The hard-nosed bench boss was hired in the offseason to change the culture of the Canucks’ locker room, and all signs point to it changing before Tortorella.

“We’ll continue to try to play defense,” Tortorella said. “Not just shot blocking, play defense — the way you’re supposed to.”

Change won’t come without growing pains —  and now Burrows should know that better than anyone.

Photo via Twitter/@Jules_Caruana

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