Chicago Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger exited Friday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes with less than five minutes to play in the second period and did not return.
After the game, which the Blackhawks lost 3-2, coach Joel Quenneville announced that Kruger is “going to miss some time” and will probably be out on a week-to-week basis with an upper body injury.
The Blackhawks were already playing Friday’s game without forward Marian Hossa due to an upper body injury.
Kruger’s early exit forced them to play the remainder of their game in Carolina with only 11 forwards.
With only two goals and eight assists in 38 games this season (after scoring zero goals and recording just four assists in 41 games a year ago) Kruger obviously isn’t a player the Blackhawks rely on for offense. But they absolutely love his defensive game and lean on him more than any other forward on the team when it comes to killing penalties. They value his play away from the puck so much that they signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract extension that started this season.
Originally a fifth-round draft pick by the team in 2009, Kruger has played in 367 regular season games with the team over parts of seven seasons and been a member of their Stanley Cup winning teams in 2012-13 and 2014-15.
Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)
This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews’ expense.)
On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.
William Nylander’s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.
Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.
So far, it shows, too.
The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.
There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:
Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week
Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.
WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry
A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.
As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.
While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.
Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.
It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.