The Chicago Blackhawks are about to face some serious adversity.
The club announced this morning that defenseman Duncan Keith has undergone successful surgery to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee.
Keith — the 2015 recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP — is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
The Blackhawks (3-3-0) play 15 games over the next month. If Keith is out the full six weeks, he could miss a quarter of the regular season, give or take a few games.
Here’s how the ice time has been allocated on the Chicago defense so far this season:
Columbus backup Curtis McElhinney will be back between the pipes tonight when the 0-6-0 Blue Jackets host the Islanders.
“Curtis played great in Chicago and has earned another opportunity to play,” coach Todd Richards told reporters.
McElhinney got his first start of the season, replacing the struggling Sergei Bobrovsky, Saturday against the Blackhawks and stopped 26 of 29 shots in a 4-1 loss.
It goes without saying that tonight is another massive game for the Jackets. Lose in regulation and they’ll be 0-7-0 as they start a four-game trip through Minnesota, Colorado, New Jersey and Washington.
Related: Bobrovsky admits he has ‘zero confidence right now’
Senators forward Bobby Ryan is hoping some practice time will help things come together for him and his linemates, Mika Zibanejad and Milan Michalek.
Michalek is the latest left winger to skate with Ryan and Zibanejad, replacing the injured Clarke MacArthur.
“Even through training camp, Mika and I only skated together in one game,” Ryan told the Ottawa Citizen. “It wasn’t consistent, it was a bit messy. So now we’re having a week here where we can get some reps, get some flow, some 2-on-1s, 3 on 2s, and build from there.”
The Sens don’t play again until Thursday. When they do, they’d love to get some production beyond the first line of Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris and Mark Stone. That trio has combined for eight even-strength goals. Everyone else combined has five.
Ryan has one goal in six games, and just 11 shots total. For a cap hit of $7.25 million, that’s not enough.
Michalek, with a cap hit of $4 million, has yet to score at even strength, though he does have a pair of power-play goals.
Shea Theodore’s NHL debut will have to wait. The 20-year-old defenseman was returned to AHL San Diego today by the Anaheim Ducks.
Theodore was called up Saturday, along with defenseman Korbinian Holzer, when d-men Simon Despres and Clayton Stoner were placed on injured reserve.
Holzer remains on the NHL roster after dressing in the Ducks’ 4-1 win over Minnesota on Sunday.
Anaheim doesn’t play again until Thursday in Nashville. No word if Despres or Stoner are close to returning.
Theodore was drafted 26th overall in 2013. He was a prolific scorer during his time in junior with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds and is just now getting his feet wet as a pro.
There’s a reason they say firing the coach is the easiest move to make.
For a struggling team like the Columbus Blue Jackets, there won’t be many life lines offered on the trade market.
“There’s nothing available that fits our plans, or the price is so steep that … you can’t do that,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch.
It’s been reported that the 0-6-0 club would rather make a trade than fire coach Todd Richards.
The other option, of course, is to do neither.
“We still believe in this team,” said Kekalainen. “One win at a time, we have to dig ourselves out of this.”
The Jackets host the Islanders Tuesday before starting a four-game road trip Thursday in Minnesota.
Related: What will the Jackets do with Richards?