Game Preview

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Vancouver Canucks were expected to give more young players extra ice time in the stretch drive of the season -- but not this way.

The absence of an injured young player -- star rookie Brock Boeser, who is expected to miss the balance of Vancouver's campaign -- will provide extra playing opportunities for his peers.

The team revealed Tuesday that the 21-year-old Burnsville, Minn., native, who ranks among the NHL's rookie leaders with 29 goals and 26 assists, will be out four to six weeks with a back injury.

As a result, the Canucks (25-32-9) will be without their top scorer when they host the Arizona Coyotes (20-34-11) on Wednesday night.

"It's unfortunate for sure," Canucks coach Travis Green told reporters after the team held an off-ice workout Tuesday. "Obviously, (Boeser) has had a great rookie season, and the good news is: he will have a full recovery."

Boeser was injured in the final minute of the third period of Monday's overtime win over the New York Islanders as he was knocked into an open players-bench gate. The club said he suffered a minor fracture in his lower back and a soft-tissue injury.

Boeser went to the hospital but was released early Tuesday morning.

"He's got a small fracture, but he's going to be fine," said Green. "He walked out of the hospital, and I know there is a lot of concern because you talk about a back, but those things do happen with players. It's obviously magnified, because it's (Boeser)."

The Canucks recalled forward Reid Boucher from Utica of the American Hockey League on Tuesday to fill in for Boeser. Veteran Daniel Sedin was glad that Boeser, who had to be carried off the ice and into the dressing room, was not as badly hurt as he might have been.

"He's been a big part of what we've done this year, and at the same time it could have been a lot worse," Sedin told reporters. "We're going to miss him on the power play and the respect he gets from other teams."

Sedin, 37, had back surgery early in his career, in 2001, hopes Boeser does not have to deal with any complications.

"Back injuries are always scary, so hopefully it is what we think it is -- and he'll be back 100 percent," Sedin told reporters.

Center Bo Horvat, who was on the sidelines for an extended stretch this season due to a broken foot, said the Canucks will miss Boeser's production, but he needs to be patient with his recovery.

"The biggest thing for him is let it run its course," Horvat told reporters. "You can't push it to get back on the ice too soon. Backs are tricky."

Although Wednesday's game will have no importance playoff-wise, it could have a bearing on this year's NHL draft. Both the Canucks and Coyotes are among the league's cellar dwellers, and the result could eventually affect each team's chances of picking first overall.

The Canucks have lost three of their past four home games, while the Coyotes, who dropped an overtime decision to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.

"I think, since the new year, we've been playing great," Arizona defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who scored his first goal in 70 games Monday, told reporters. "We've been getting a lot of points and we're just going to try to keep it going here with however many games are left."

But, like the Canucks, the Coyotes are dealing with the absence of a key player. Goaltender Antti Raanta, who has been the backbone of their recent success, unexpectedly missed Monday's game due to what the team has described as tightness. The Coyotes recalled Adin Hill on an emergency basis Tuesday from Tucson of the AHL.

Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski, another player who has stood out lately, is also expected to miss the game. With his wife expecting their second child, he did not travel with the team.

The absences will offer another lesson in overcoming adversity for the Coyotes, who took consolation from overcoming a two-goal deficit in Edmonton.

"I think we're (a) pretty resilient group and it's good to know that, if we're down, we can always come back," center Christian Dvorak told reporters.

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