Welcome to the latest installment of While You Were Away, where we collect and break down some of the stories from across the NHL and the hockey world that you might have missed.
It’s early November and already the injuries are starting to pile up. We all know that Connor McDavid’s clavicle injury is a massive blow to the Oilers, but after a dozen or so games, other teams are starting to feel the wear and tear of the NHL season.
Today we’re looking at some recent injuries and the impact of these losses.
Zach Parise, Out Day-to-day with a lower body injury
Parise sustained the injury in the first period of the Minnesota Wild’s 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday. Given that the Wild are in the bottom five in shots per game in the league, they’re certainly going to miss Parise’s 3.5 shots per game. The winger been nothing short of fantastic in terms of of generating chances and offense for the Wild this season, who oddly enough sit at 5th in the league in goals per game.
Coach Mike Yeo ruled Parise out for the next few games today and said there was no timetable for his return. This is a big loss in the short-term for the Wild.
As you’ve probably heard a thousand times already this season, the Central Division is going to be a dogfight this year. Despite the Wild’s strong 7-3-2 start they still sit fifth in the division and have an important match-up against high-flying division foes the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
Jonathan Bernier, Injured Reserve with a lower body injury
Bernier’s health has been questionable since the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 31. He was placed on the IR on Thursday, retroactive to November 1, so there isn't a ton of information regarding his return.
Health issues aside, it hasn’t been a great start to the season for Leafs’ goalie. With an .899 save percentage and a 3.02 goals against average, he hasn’t provided his teammates with much of an opportunity to squeak out a few wins, given the team’s inability to score. Now, Bernier has had rough patches before and he’s also shown glimpses of being the elite goalkeeper many Toronto fans hope he can be. But this season has been a disappointment so far and needless to say, his time on the IR isn’t dire to the club. Perhaps this will be a chance for him to regain focus.
In the meantime, James Reimer has filled in adequately, allowing four goals on 77 shots in the last two games against Winnipeg and in Dallas. This stretch without Bernier could allow the Leafs to make some much needed decisions: How long are they going to roll with two keepers? Can Reimer finally solidify himself as a starter? And will they get a look at Antoine Bibeau, arguably the netminder of the future for the team?
Given the opportunities that come of Bernier’s injury, this isn’t a huge loss for the Maple Leafs.
Rickard Rakell, Out Day-to-day with upper body injury and Jiri Sekac, Injured Reserve with ankle injury
Just when it looked like the Anaheim Ducks were getting their season back on track, the injuries begin to pile up. It goes without saying that losing Ryan Getzlaf, recovering from an appendectomy and expected to return early next week, was a big blow to. Sure, he was off to a slow start this season but you have to figure an elite center like him will turn it around eventually. He took line rushes on the Ducks top line Friday morning.
But with games on Friday and Saturday, the Ducks’ lack of forward depth is going to be an issue for a team that has already had trouble scoring. While Anaheim fans bite their nails and wait for Corey Perry to start producing more consistently, second- and third-line centers and wingers such as Rakell and Sekac have had to chip in.
Looking to build off two straight wins, Friday's game against the struggling Blue Jackets, themselves winners of the last two straight, and then a big test against the San Jose Sharks the following night may finally force management’s hand to make a deal.
The Ducks entered this season as one of the deepest squads in the league so while losing two key forwards hurts, you’d think that there would be other likely candidates to pick up the scoring slack.
That hasn’t happened as of yet, so we’ll call these losses important, but not dire, for the Ducks.