The Erik Cole era in Detroit lasted all of 11 games.
Cole, one of Detroit’s key pickups at the trade deadline, has been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs with a spinal cord contusion, per the Macomb Daily.
This will undoubtedly be a blow to the Red Wings moving forward. Though he’d only appeared in a handful of games, Cole looked to be a nice fit, scoring six points in 11 contests while averaging 14:39 TOI per night. What’s more, the 36-year-old has plenty of postseason experience, having appeared in 46 career contests while playing in a pair of Stanley Cup Finals (winning it all with Carolina in 2006).
Cole was also averaging 0.57 points per game this year, his highest rate since scoring a career-high 35 goals with Montreal in 2011-12.
This isn’t the only injury Detroit’s dealing with at the moment, either. Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Jurco and Johan Franzen are all currently shelved as well, and it’s unlikely Franzen will return this season. With these four forwards out of the lineup, Detroit will be forced to further lean on the likes of Landon Ferraro (who made his regular-season debut on Tuesday versus Carolina) and Teemu Pulkkinen, both of whom are relatively inexperienced.
Ferraro, 23, is enjoying arguably the best AHL campaign of his career, with a personal high of 27 goals in 70 games. The son of former NHLer Ray Ferraro made his big-league debut last season, appearing in four games, but has played exclusively with the Griffins this season due in large part to Detroit’s depth of forwards at the NHL level.
As for Abdelkader, he’s likely to miss Tuesday’s tilt against Carolina after hurting himself while blocking a shot in Sunday’s loss to Washington. It could be a potentially big blow for Detroit — Abdelkader is having a great year for the Wings, having scored a career-high 23 goals, and has filled the role of net-front presence/power forward quite effectively.
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Already without the services of Braydon Coburn and still upset from Saturday’s 4-0 spanking in Detroit, the Bolts learned today that key defenseman Jason Garrison would miss the next 3-4 weeks with an injury suffered on a questionable hit from Wings forward Justin Abdelkader.
The Lightning also announced that fellow blueliner Andrej Sustr would miss 1-2 weeks. Both he and Garrison are listed with upper-body ailments.
The bigger loss of the two is Garrison, who’s enjoying a solid campaign. The 30-year-old had four goals and 30 points through 70 games this year — third on the team in d-man scoring — and received huge praise from head coach Jon Cooper.
“[Garrison] is a man out there,” Cooper recently told the Tampa Bay Tribune. “He defends really well, he skates. He’s really hard to play against. And, usually, nine times out of 10 if he’s going into the corner with somebody, he’s the guy coming out with it.”
Here’s the hit that sidelined Garrison:
The Bolts weren’t happy with the play, with starting netminder Ben Bishop calling Abdelkader’s actions “pretty dirty.” The Detroit forward received a two-minute boarding minor on the play, and wasn’t suspended.
So, where does this leave Tampa Bay?
The Bolts take on the Habs in Montreal tonight with what amounts to a patchwork defense. Victor Hedman will play with Luke Witkowski, Anton Stralman will skate with Nikita Nesterov and Matt Carle is paired with Mark Barberio.
With just six games left in their regular season schedule, the Tampa Bay Lightning need reinforcements. They’ve called up forward Jonathan Marchessault and defenseman Luke Witkowski in response to injuries sustained by Cedric Paquette and Jason Garrison.
Marchessault, 24, went undrafted, but he’s established himself as a top forward at the AHL level. He recorded at least 56 points in each of his previous three campaigns going into 2014-15. This season he has 21 goals and 57 points in 60 contests, which puts him in a tie for fifth place in the AHL’s scoring race. While he’s had plenty of success in the minors, thus far he’s only played in three NHL games.
Witkowski, 24, was taken in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He finished the 2013-14 campaign with 204 penalty minutes in 76 AHL contests, which put him in 10th place in the league. He has eight points and 91 penalty minutes in 47 contests with the Syracuse Crunch in 2014-15. He’s also played in 10 contests with Tampa Bay this season and has logged an average of 14:44 minutes per game.
Paquette hurt his left leg when he crashed into the goal post during Saturday’s game while trying to prevent an empty net goal. He’s regarded as day-to-day, per the Tampa Bay Times.
Garrison has an upper-body injury after being smashed into the boards by Justin Abdelkader on Saturday. He was evaluated on Sunday and the Lightning are expected to learn more about his condition today.
Tampa Bay isn’t likely to finish worse than second in the Atlantic Division, but it would need to close a three-point gap to catch up to the Montreal Canadiens.