If it wasn’t already clear that the grind of a grueling 82-game season was starting to set in, this list of injuries should drive the point home. Even by such standards, plenty of NHL teams are reeling – publicly or not – in mid-November.
This continues a tough stretch of injury news, as John Klingberg ranked among the biggest names in the last batch of unsettling updates.
- Sidney Crosby is the biggest name, and the latest news from the Pittsburgh Penguins presents a mixed bag.
Whenever you hear the words “Sidney Crosby” and “upper-body injury,” the reflex is to worry that his career-threatening concussion issues have surfaced again. The good news is that, at least according to the Penguins, Crosby is not dealing with a concussion. While it’s worth noting that teams can be less-than-forthcoming when it comes to injury updates, we’ll have to take this as heartening for now.
(It helps their argument that it’s not exactly clear when the injury happened.)
The less promising news is that Mike Sullivan believes that Crosby will miss about a week, with number 87 carrying a day-to-day designation. Take a look at the remainder of the Penguins’ November schedule for some context:
Thu, Nov. 15 vs. Tampa Bay
Sat, Nov. 17 @ Ottawa
Mon, Nov. 19 vs. Buffalo
Wed, Nov. 21 vs. Dallas
Fri, Nov. 23 @ Boston
Sat, Nov. 24 vs. Columbus
Tue, Nov. 27 @ Winnipeg
Wed, Nov. 28 @ Colorado
So, if Sullivan is correct, Crosby would miss somewhere between 3-4 games. If things progress more slowly than anticipated, it could sting quite a bit more, considering the Penguins’ two back-to-back sets on Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 27-28.
The Penguins were already struggling, and no Crosby takes a little steam out of the acquisition of Tanner Pearson, but it sounds like things could have been a lot worse.
- For instance, the Penguins could have been dealt a blow like the Tampa Bay Lightning have, as word surfaced that star goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is dealing with what might be a fractured foot.
The earliest indication from Joe Smith of The Athletic (sub required) is that Vasilevskiy could miss three-to-four weeks, although that could change. Considering how crucial mobility is for goalies – who can’t really be “hidden” in the lineup, compared to skaters who might get by at far less than 100 percent – this is a troubling injury.
On the bright side, the Lightning have at least built a playoff buffer for themselves, as their East-leading 25 points gives them a six-point cushion against the three teams outside on the bubble (Capitals, Hurricanes, and Flyers) right now. As Smith notes, the Bolts also don’t deal with the sort of back-to-back sets that could really exacerbate this problem, at least not until early-December (when they face road games against the Devils and Red Wings on Dec. 3-4).
They don’t have much of a lead in the daunting Atlantic Division, however, as the Maple Leafs (who won’t feel a lot of sympathy with Auston Matthews out) only behind by one point in the same 18 games played.
While Eddie Pasquale has been recalled to serve as a backup, Louis Domingue is set to be the workhorse until Vasilevskiy returns, unless the Lightning decide that they need to bring in outside help via a trade. This continues a remarkable journey for Domingue, who was pondering quitting the sport altogether not so long ago.
That’s a cool story, but it could be more maudlin if he struggles. The Penguins and Lightning play on Thursday night in a game that’s suddenly depleted of significant star power.
(Luckily, both teams are still pretty loaded, even if they’re more vulnerable to slumps now.)
- Zdeno Chara suffered what appeared to be a painful-looking knee injury in a collision with Carl Soderberg during Wednesday’s Bruins loss to the Avalanche.
The Bruins are expected to provide more information as they take a longer look at the 41-year-old’s knee, whether that examination happens on Friday or possibly later. NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty notes that the tree-sized defenseman has dealt with knee issues before, so here’s hoping that the fitness freak avoids the worst.
If nothing else, the B’s have been able to (mostly) weather the storm of defensemen injuries so far, as both Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy have been limited to seven games played apiece so far in 2018-19. Granted, McAvoy is still out and Brandon Carlo is also banged up, so it remains to be seen if Boston can fight off all of these issues.
- The Nashville Predators are off to a hot start to the season, which is comforting to think about as they grapple with some troubling injuries.
Not long after being activated from IR, scrappy scoring machine Viktor Arvidsson is back on it, as the team announced that he’s expected to miss six-to-eight weeks (ouch) with a broken thumb (double ouch). Winning the Central Division won’t be easy with that first-line spark plug missing such a big chunk of the season.
It’s not clear how long they might be without P.K. Subban. He’s currently considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Nashville is rightly praised for amassing impressive depth during this salary cap era. That depth looks to be tested, particularly if Subban’s issue forces him out for more than a brief lull.
Moments after this post went up, Nashville announced that Subban is on IR, so that’s not promising.
- The Washington Capitals are finally being bit by the injury bug after sporting freakish levels of repellant under the Barry Trotz regime. It’s unclear, however, how hard they’ve been bitten. It may not be clearer until Friday, if not later.
Still, it’s wise to keep an eye on Braden Holtby, T.J. Oshie, and Evgeny Kuznetsov going forward.
- As a reminder, the Anaheim Ducks announced that surgery is scheduled for Cam Fowler on Friday, as he’s dealing with some nasty-sounding facial injuries. This could be quite the painful pill to swallow, considering how awful Anaheim’s looking on defense as of late. The specific timetable is unclear, but that doesn’t sound good.
- Rotoworld’s injury listings could be handy for those who want even more updates, such as Tomas Hertl being day-to-day for the San Jose Sharks. That’s especially true for those who are deep in the woods from a fantasy perspective.
- There hasn’t been a ton of great news, although it sounds like James van Riemsdyk is finally slated to return for the Philadelphia Flyers against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.