Here’s what we know.
During Phoenix’s 3-2 overtime victory over Chicago on Thursday night, Coyotes leading scorer Radim Vrbata played two shifts — totaling 30 seconds — before leaving for good early in the first period.
During the game, the Coyotes would only say that Vrbata was being evaluated. After it, head coach Dave Tippett classified the 35-goal scorer’s status as “day-to-day.”
Here’s what we don’t know.
The exact injury.Tippett said he wasn’t even sure if it was upper-body or lower-body. Vrbata left the game after absorbing this hit from ‘Hawks forward Andrew Shaw…
…which, after further review, looks to be some sort of arm/shoulder/upper-body injury.
If it’s related to his other health issues. According to NHL.com, Vrbata was “hampered” throughout March after an allergic reaction to penicillin. The byproduct of that reaction was severe muscle cramps throughout his body, which actually caused him to miss six games. As a result, he suffered one of his longest scoring slumps of the season (12 games, from Feb. 23 to Mar. 22.
When he’s expected back. His status us shrouded in the usual playoff secrecy, but it was clear Tippett and the Coyotes were flustered after losing their premier sniper. (No Coyote had scored 35 goals since Keith Tkachuk netted 36 in 1998-99.)
Resiliency may be the Coyotes’ mantra the rest of this series, especially if Vrbata is out for any amount of time. Injuries are always a big secret at this time of the season, but it’s no secret that Vrbata is a key cog in the Coyotes machine. The Coyotes figured out a way to edge the Blackhawks’ high-powered
offence without Vrbata, at least for one game. They had everyone on board on Thursday and they’re going to need that same dedication throughout.
“We talk about who we are and [getting secondary scoring] is how we’re going to have to do things if we’re going to be successful in this series,” Tippett said. “[Taylor] Pyatt gives us a big goal, Hanzal [too].
“People are chipping in. And with our group, we have to have everybody finding a way to chip in, especially losing Vrbata.
“There are 35 goals out of our lineup right there. But we found a way to get the win.”
The ‘Hawks and Coyotes play Game 2 Saturday in Phoenix.