VANCOUVER — Dan Hamhuis delivered the hit of the night in Game 1 when he upended Milan Lucic in front of the benches early in the second period on Wednesday.
But it came at a price for the Vancouver defenseman, who left the game with an undisclosed injury and did not return. He also did not practice Friday at the University of British Columbia and is doubtful to play in Game 2 on Saturday, though Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault would only offer that Hamhuis is "day to day."
Vigneault was equally cryptic about who would replace Hamhuis in the lineup if necessary. Former Bruin Andrew Alberts played in the top six in practice on Friday, paired with Christian Ehrhoff, while fellow Game 1 scratches Keith Ballard and Christopher Tanev skated together as the extra pair.
"It's never easy to sit out, but as long as the team is winning I'm happy for them," Alberts said. "You try to do what you can in practice to help guys out on and off the ice, be supportive. It's nice to work hard and finally get a shot here hopefully."
The other pairs in Friday's practice featured Kevin Bieksa with Aaron Rome and Sami Salo with Alexander Edler, but Vigneault was quick to state those won't necessarily be the pairs on the ice for Game 2.
"Dan is day to day," Vigneault repeated. "Don't put anything in the lines or the D pairs you saw today."
Still, Vigneault did praise Alberts and his ability to step into the lineup if needed.
"I'd expect him to play well," Vigneault said. "He's a big body. He's a physical presence. Every time we've used Andrew, he's played extremely well for us and played hard."
Of course, Vigneault also offered similar praise for Ballard and Tanev, who played together as a pair in the final two games against San Jose when Ehrhoff and Rome were injured.
"Those two guys, when we've used them, have been dependable and solid both offensively and defensively," Vigneault said. "I think Keith has played his best hockey this year when he has played with Chris Tanev. I think they both read off one another real well. Their outlet passes and their north/south plays are consistent. Defensively when the other team has been in our zone, we haven't spent a lot of time because they've been able to read off one another and get the puck out quickly. It's been a real good pair for us."
The Canucks have the luxury of a lot of depth on defense, but losing Hamhuis would be a big blow to Vancouver. Even one of the guys who could get a chance to play if Hamhuis remains out was quick to stress how much the Canucks would miss the injured defenseman.
"You miss a ton," Alberts said. "Hammer has been one of our top D all year long and he's been shutting down the other teams' top lines all playoffs long. I'm not sure of his status, hopefully he's back, but he's a big loss for our lineup."
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