It’s been a day of bad news for teams hoping to cement Eastern Conference playoff spots so far.
First, word came that Evgeni Malkin is likely sidelined through a round or two of the playoffs. Now the Detroit Red Wings are grappling with worries about a lower-body injury for crucial defenseman Niklas Kronwall.
While the early reports indicated that it wasn’t serious, perhaps that’s a matter of semantics; Kronwall had an MRI on his knee and the Red Wings hope he can be back by the end of the regular season, according to Sportsnet’s Damien Cox.
DET D Niklas Kronwall had an MRI on his knee today, believed its a knee sprain. Hope is he'll be back before the end of the regular season.
The Philadelphia Flyers announced that defenseman Andrew MacDonald is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
The polarizing defenseman’s absence may be considered “addition by subtraction” to some, at least judging by the narrative surrounding his season, particularly when he was demoted to the AHL despite his $30 million contract.
That said, MacDonald’s been averaging about 21 minutes of ice time per game, so that’s a consideration for a Flyers team hoping to chase the wounded Pittsburgh Penguins for a playoff spot during the stretch run.
Injury Update: Andrew MacDonald has a lower-body injury and is day-to-day.
Henrik Lundqvist finished his first game back with the New York Rangers in a foul mood, which seems a lot like how he entered his brief injury break.
This time around, it was the Detroit Red Wings leaving Lundqvist grumbling with a late rally that transformed into a 3-2 overtime win.
Former Rangers forward Brad Richards sent the game into overtime with a power-play goal in the dying seconds of the third period. After that, Darren Helm‘s second goal of the night was the overtime-clincher.
Lundqvist was impressive in his return, earning “reflexes of a cat”-type compliments.
#RedWings Larkin: (#NYR Lundqvist's) one of the best, probably the best goalie. So calm and plays so deep. His reaction is like a cat.
As you can see from that tweet, the (Evgeni Malkin-less) Pittsburgh Penguins will face an angry Lundqvist tomorrow, which is fitting in a way since they’re the team that made him so irritated a little more than a week ago.
Malkin suffered that issue in what looks to be a costly win from Friday. You can see the likely moment of injury in the video above.
There is about a month left in the season, so if that six-to-eight week window is accurate (we’ve seen players like Patrick Kane come back surprisingly early when the playoffs are involved), then the Penguins would need to win a round or two for Malkin to play again in 2016-17.
The high-scoring forward has been banged up at times this season, and the Penguins have been able to scrap together wins, but now they’ll need to hold onto their playoff spot without him.
This continues a rather disturbing pattern of injuries around playoff time for Pittsburgh, as it seems rare that they’ve gone into many postseasons with all of Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury at 100 percent.
Evgeni Malkin will have missed 138 games since 2009-10. Crosby has missed 122 since then. Letang 120.