While the Colorado Avalanche were busy making Niklas Backstrom’s life miserable tonight beating the Wild 7-4, their struggles with injuries continued and if the team thought they were being tested before, they haven’t seen anything yet. Tonight, Avalanche power forward Chris Stewart broke his hand in a fight with Wild forward Kyle Brodziak late in the second period.
Stewart is second on the team with 25 points, a total that puts him in the NHL’s top 20 in scoring. Stewart and Milan Hejduk are the guys leading the way for the high-scoring Avs and losing a guy with the kind of scoring punch that Stewart provides is going to hurt, tonight’s outcome not withstanding. As for the fight, have a look for yourself.
With Stewart out, the Avalanche injured list is unbelievable. Goalie Craig Anderson was just put on injured reserve today for the second time this year. The forward units are already without T.J. Galiardi and Peter Mueller and defensemen Adam Foote and Kyle Quincey have missed significant amounts of time this year while Kyle Cumiskey is still on IR. While they’ve gotten outstanding play from rookie Kevin Shattenkirk, the Avs are having to make due with inexperienced blue liners like Ryan Wilson and Jonas Holos, of whom Denver Post beat writer Adrian Dater isn’t convinced that Wilson should be playing at all.
The Avs have been able to employ the “bend don’t break” philosophy to how they’re playing with so many players absent, being able to maintain a high level of play for an extended amount of time is taxing on the team and the organizational depth. If the Avs can keep it up, Joe Sacco might want to ask for a raise for doing what he’s able to do with a team that’s continually playing with a fractured lineup.
CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.
The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.
The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.
The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.
The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.
The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.
Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.
The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.
The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.
“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”
Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.
TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.
The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.
“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”
The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.
Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.