The gamesmanship of the injury situation surrounding Adam Henrique

The injury status of Adam Henrique has been an ongoing storyline throughout the Canucks Series, but was it a case of the Oilers being economical with the truth?
Los Angeles Kings v Edmonton Oilers - Game Five
Los Angeles Kings v Edmonton Oilers - Game Five / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages

As the Edmonton Oilers prepare for Monday night's winner-takes-all game seven in Vancouver, there are a number of factors which will help determine the outcome. This includes the health of both teams.

For the Canucks, they will be without Brock Boeser who, as per Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, has a blood clotting issue which is -- thankfully -- non-life-threatening. His absence is a significant one, given that he leads the Canucks with seven playoff goals and is tied for the team-lead, with 12 overall points.

As for the Oilers. they will similarly be without a top-six forward, with Adam Henrique now officially ruled out for game seven. Speaking to the media after the team arrived in Vancouver on Sunday, coach Kris Knoblauch confirmed that he won't be ready for Monday night.

In one respect, Henrique's absence is arguably not as important as Boeser's, just by virtue of the former only playing in one game during this second round series. However, you do have to wonder how much of a difference it could have made to the overall outcome, if he hadn't been dealing with an ankle injury?

Henrique has been sorely missed

The 34-year-old has proven to be a key addition, ever since he arrived in a Mar. 6 trade from the Anaheim Ducks via the Tampa Bay Lightning. He helped down the regular season stretch and continued to be key during the first round of the playoffs versus the Los Angeles Kings, even leading the Oilers with 22 hits

Since then however, Henrique has been plagued by an ankle injury which he sustained in the final game of the Kings series. The question is, has there been an element of gamesmanship surrounding his health for the Canucks series?

Consider that when the injury first came up, Knoblauch said that while the Brantford, Ontario native was being given maintenance days, he would be ready to go in game one of the all-Canadian playoff series. It was apparently more a case of being cautious, and giving the player extra time to rest and recover for the second round of the playoffs.

The narrative only began to change two days before the opening game, with the Oilers coach saying he was hopeful Henrique would be available. He was subsequently officially ruled out for game one.

Henrique did return for game two in Vancouver, but it was clear to see he was still labouring with his ankle injury. He only saw 11:38 of ice time and had minimal impact, quite literally in one respect as he recorded no hits.

An ongoing game of cat and mouse

Since then, the 2008 third round draft pick has not suited up again. In the leadup to every game, there has been a hope he would return, before being officially ruled out.

Arguably as a byproduct of the ambiguity surrounding Henrique's ongoing injury, there have been mixed messages in respect of his availability. Knoblauch continually referred to him as day-to-day, at one point saying he would possibly be able to play in game four, maybe game five.

The mixed messaging carried on in the lead-up to game six on Saturday night, with differing reports from reputable members of the Oilers media. Jason Gregor of Sports 1440 said Henrique would not be available, while Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now reported that he would be a game-time decision.

So have the Oilers been economical with the truth? Have they attempted to gain some semblance of an advantage over the Canucks, in what has been an extremely close and competitive series?

In reality, the answer is probably no, just by virtue of Knoblauch admitting well ahead of time that Henrique would not be available for game seven. Instead, it's likely more a case of the Oilers genuinely hoping he would be able to play in the series, but continually suffering setbacks/not responded as well as expected to treatment on his ankle injury.

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This does lead to wondering if Henqriue will be able to play -- and be effective -- versus a strong Dallas Stars team which will understandably be favourites in the Western Conference Final. First things first though the Oilers have to actually advance past the Canucks, without a crucial part of their lineup.

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