Tyler Myers was having the best game to date of his 2020 postseason Friday night against the St. Louis Blues. He was moving the puck well, exhibited good gap control, and was positively affecting his team all night long.
Then he went down awkwardly into the boards — headfirst, to boot.
He was able to skate off under his own power and appeared to absorb most of the contact with his shoulder rather than his head, but it was a scary moment, nonetheless.
— Here's Your Replay (@TheReplayGuy) August 15, 2020
Myers did not return for the remainder of the third and was also absent for overtime. Head coach Travis Green didn’t provide an update on Myers other than that he was “unfit to play”. Thanks to the NHL’s adapted policy on injury reporting in the age of bubble hockey, we likely won’t get any sort of timeline on when Myers could return to the lineup.
The injury and Myers subsequently appearing to skate off without moving his left shoulder much make it seem as though he won’t be available for the third game of the series on Sunday night.
The Canucks are certainly hoping that’s not the case because a world without Myers for the rest of this series will be a significant blow to a team that seems to have all the momentum in the world right now.
Simply put, Myers is a minute-eating machine and the Canucks have played the wheels off he and the rest of their top four defencemen to this point in the postseason. Myers also turned in an exceptionally solid effort Friday night and was a key part of the Canucks’ success, losing him now would be a big blow.
In his 9:43 of ice time at 5 on 5, Myers had a Corsi rating of 61.11%, generating 11 chances for while allowing just seven against. This percentage was nearly the highest among all Canucks’ defencemen, with Quinn Hughes slightly beating out Myers with a Corsi rating of 62%. Myers also had an xGF% of 78.63 — and again — Hughes was only slightly better in this category as well.
As mentioned above, Myers was wheeling the puck up with confidence, making smart plays in every area of the ice, and truly had a strong, complete game on Friday night.
Now take into account the big minutes the Canucks have relied on him to play at 5 on 5 and on both special teams units all year long and into the postseason, and it becomes clear why he’s so important to this lineup.
Even in the Canucks’ game one victory over the Blues — when Myers had a rather poor performance — he was still the Canucks’ second-most used defencemen at 5 on 5, with Alex Edler logging roughly 40 more seconds than Myers.
And the Canucks’ game four overtime victory against the Wild? Not only did Myers drive the play exceptionally well in that game, but he also logged 20+ minutes of 5 on 5 ice time, only Hughes had more. Add on the nearly five minutes of special teams minutes he played, and it’s another game where Myers ate a ton of minutes and was quietly vital to the Canucks coming away with the victory.
If Myers is unfit to play, not only will Chris Tanev be tasked with more minutes, but Troy Stecher — who has played in a fairly limited role to this point — will be relied upon to log significantly more ice time and play in situations the Canucks would typically try to avoid throwing him in.
Stecher moving up to the top four has a trickle-down effect. Although a left-handed shot, Jordie Benn likely has to slot in and play on the right side alongside Oscar Fantenberg, and despite Benn being comfortable on the right side, that’s a pairing that the coaching staff will certainly look to shelter as much as possible.
The Canucks have relied heavily upon their top four up to this point and will have to adapt accordingly if Myers is indeed out for an extended period of time.
Which is much easier said than done.