- As the injured reserve list continues to grow with big-name players at the top, the SI NHL staff debates which injury will impact its team the most.
Thursday saw the much-anticipated return of Corey Crawford in net for Chicago after missing 10 months with lingering concussion symptoms. The Blackhawks went 3–0–2 before Crawford’s return, but did not finish last season quite as strong without their top netminder, missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. The veteran goalie made 27 saves on 30 shots in his return to the lineup as the Blackhawks lost, 4–1, to the Coyotes.
As Crawford becomes reacquainted, the injured reserve list has had a spike in notable names across the league: Corey Perry, Roberto Luongo, Paul Stastny, just to name a few. Some teams are more equipped than others to handle the blow of a big-named player going down, and the SI NHL staff discusses which major injury hurts the most.
Michael Blinn: The Ducks are destined to be a team with goal-scoring troubles this season, and losing Corey Perry for five months before 2018–19 even kicked off only made things worse. It’s easy to look at their 5–1–1 start and think it might not be a problem, but with Perry joining Ryan Getzlaf, Ondrej Kase and Patrick Eaves on the sidelines, emerging Wundergoalie John Gibson is going to be tasked with keeping his team in a lot more games over the coming months.
Jeremy Fuchs: Paul Stastny was supposed to be the missing piece for the Knights. Now he’ll be missing for at least two months. And it’s a pretty devastating blow for a Vegas team that has stumbled out of the gates. Offensively, the team has been reliant on Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson, with little other support. Max Pacioretty has been disappointing so far. Stastny, who was so good in his run with Winnipeg last year, could’ve easily been an 80-point producer for the Knights, and a reliable secondary option to Karlsson and Marchessault. Now, that role is a little unclear.
Alex Prewitt: It is a whopping shame to see rookies Elias Pettersson (concussion) and Brady Tkachuk (torn leg ligament) missing extended time, if only because Vancouver and Ottawa fans could use some occasional sprinkles of hope on their predominantly sadness sundaes. But neither franchise was going anywhere fast this season, so the dishonorable distinction here belongs to our favorite pseudonymous Tweeter, goalie Roberto Luongo (sprained MCL). The Panthers employ a capable backup in James Reimer for now, but they will need healthy netminding to supplement an otherwise well-rounded lineup and aid their legitimate playoff hopes in a mucky Atlantic Division.
Emily Caron: A lower-body injury sidelined Kings goalie Jonathan Quick just after the season opener and Los Angeles struggled without him. Quick returned to net Thursday night and and it wasn’t a pretty returned as he was relieved by backup Jack Campbell in a 7–2 loss to the Islanders. Campbell went 2–3 with a 2.69 goals-against average in Quick’s absence, allowing nine goals in his last two starts. With veteran right wing Dustin Brown breaking his finger right before the regular season started, Los Angeles’s season kicked off sans two veteran leaders. The team’s frustration is tangible and it struggled to solidify an identity without two key starters.
Kristen Nelson: The Senators didn’t have many positives to their offseason, but one of the few was landing Brady Tkachuk. The No. 4 overall pick of the 2018 draft missed the first two games of the season with a groin injury, but he notched six points (three goals, three assists) in his first four NHL games. Ottawa was never supposed to be competitive this year but has had a surprisingly successful start, and much of that can be attributed to the success of the promising youth that the team is so invested in. Sidelining Tkachuk for a month with a torn ligament in his leg could very well put the Senators back on that sad, sad track.