Injury bug hits

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

So much for having a full complement of healthy players.

Pretty soon, the Manitoba Moose might be back to scrambling to ice 17 skaters.

The Moose hit the road last week with as close to a full roster as they've had all season, but returned with several bodies in the infirmary and one or more expected to be recalled by the parent Vancouver Canucks before the week is out.

During last week's road trip, the Moose lost forward Nathan Smith to a foot injury and defenceman Prestin Ryan to an undisclosed "mid-body" injury.

Neither individual played last night and both are listed as day-to-day by Moose head coach Scott Arniel, who said he was ignoring all calls from a 604 area code yesterday.

"I'm not answering my phone, but obviously we're expecting a phone call," said Arniel, who did speak with Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault after addressing the media. "It's just been a carousel that we've been on here since the start of the season, with call-ups and injuries. We had our penciled-in team in September and we have yet to put that lineup out on the ice."

It doesn't look like they'll put it on the ice anytime soon either.

And if it wasn't enough that the Canucks struggles to score goals and win games continue, they also lost three players to injury in Monday's 4-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

The most serious injury was to energetic forward Rick Rypien, who left late in the first period with a partial tear of his groin that is expected to keep him out of action for six to eight weeks -- according to Vigneault.

This is the latest in a series of injuries for Rypien, whose promotion to the Canucks was delayed by a pair of thumb injuries he suffered in fights.

Low and behold, Rypien nailed Colorado Avalanche defenceman Brett Clark on Saturday night and fought Ian Laperriere during his first shift in the NHL since suffering a broken fibula against the Minnesota Wild on New Year's Eve of 2005.

"He's that type of player," said Arniel. "It doesn't matter if you tell him not to fight. There's that emotion and they get fired up. He made a big hit and you knew somebody was coming and he wasn't going to back down. That's the way he plays the game.

"He's one of those good guys you really like to see get an opportunity. He's got such a great personality and he's such a team player. As a coach, with his work ethic every day in practice and in the dressing room, you can't get enough of him."

Moose veteran Mike Keane's thoughts were with his former roommate.

"There's not too much you can do. Obviously, he's disappointed because he was playing well at the time," said Keane. "These things are going to happen. There are going to be setbacks in your career and this is one of them. Hopefully, he's not out for a long period of time."

To make matters worse, Canucks defenceman Sami Salo is out indefinitely with a neck/shoulder injury and winger Taylor Pyatt will miss two to four weeks with a shoulder sprain.

That means veteran blue-liner Yannick Tremblay will be recalled later this week.

Despite the injuries to Rypien and Pyatt, it doesn't look like the Canucks will be calling up any additional forward help right now because they are so close to the salary cap.


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