Stepping up or stepping out?

Just when Canucks fans might have thought it couldn’t get much worse, it has.

As a result of two unlucky accidents last night (Canucks defencemen Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo getting a deep leg muscle cut and a puck in the face, respectively) the team must prepare to spend the majority, if not the entirety, of the season without two of its top four defenceman.

Bieksa suffered a deep cut to his right calf late in the second period while battling on the end boards with Nashville centre Vernon Fiddler. Late in the third period, Salo took a puck in the face off the stick of teammate Alex Edler. Vigneault said it appeared Salo suffered a broken orbital bone.

“It’s easy to say both those guys are going to be out for a while now,” said Vigneault, who added that the team will have to call up at least one defenceman from Manitoba.

Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun

Bieksa is likely gone for the year. Some reports suggest his achilles tendon has been cut, which means he will be out of the line-up for at least five months but more likely the entire season.

Salo could return earlier but, if Steve Yzerman’s orbital bone injury suffered in the playoffs against Calgary in 2004 is anything to go by, he is likely gone for three to four months.

To be sure, it’s not as if the Canucks ‘D’ were playing well. But subtracting your bonafide top 1-2 offensive punch on the backend, not to mention Bieksa’s physical presence, is not exactly a recipe for improvement in that regard.

For what looks like the rest of the season, the Canucks are going to need to rely on Luc Bourdon stepping up to prove his worth as the #10 overall pick in 2005 and either Mike Weaver or another defenceman from the Manitoba Moose (likely Nathan MacIver) to pick up the slack.

If the replacements don’t step up and provide the cover needed, the Canucks will surely be stepping out of the playoff picture a lot sooner than anyone could have anticipated.

Even John Garrett couldn’t put a positive spin on this.

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