You knew things were going along a little too smoothly to start the year for the L.A. Kings. The team’s been playing great, they’ve been winning lots of games, and they’ve been able to stay healthy. Saturday night saw defenseman Willie Mitchell leave the game against Nashville early with an upper body injury. Yesterday, the Kings said that Mitchell didn’t have a break or fracture in his arm but as it turns out, he did have a break in his wrist. Before you jump to conclusions, the Kings weren’t messing with everyone because they were surprised by it too.
Mitchell underwent X-rays after the game and no breaks or fractures were found. But the fracture was detected during an MRI on Monday.
Apparently there’s nothing modern medical science can’t do.Mitchell will be out of action for 4-6 weeks because of the broken wrist. Unfortunately for the Kings, injuries and Willie Mitchell go together like peanut butter and jelly.
The bad news didn’t end there for the Kings today, however, as the team also announced that forward Alexei Ponikarovsky will be out for four weeks with a broken finger. Like Mitchell, Ponikarovsky suffered the injury against Nashville. While Ponikarovsky’s contributions to the team’s success aren’t immediately noticeable in the stat sheets, he’s been working a solid defensive player on the third line with Wayne Simmonds and Michal Handzus. Ponikarovsky is meant to be more of a scorer, but if he’s playing well regardless of his scoring, the Kings will take it, especially when their top two lines are having no problems putting the puck in the net.
With these two players out for a month or more, the real test for how the Kings can handle adversity begins. Losing a key shutdown defenseman and a contributing forward will be interesting to see how L.A. fares without them. They haven’t had an real bumps in the road to this point, and if the Kings are to be a Stanley Cup contender this year, how they deal with this will show how seriously we can take them.