The Toronto Maple Leafs figure to be in a tough fight for a playoff spot. Losing Frederik Andersen to an injury would make that battle even more daunting.
Andersen left Monday’s game against the Panthers with an upper-body injury. Andersen will not return. The Maple Leafs didn’t provide information beyond that game, so we’ll have to wait and see if this is serious.
Because, make no mistake about it, losing Andersen for even a little while would be a massive omission.
Andersen headed into Monday with 24-9-6 record and a .910 save percentage. Those are modest numbers, but he’s often carried a heavy burden behind a dicey Leafs defense. Michael Hutchinson, Andersen’s replacement, provides little reason for optimism.
People initially believed that a bump from Frank Vatrano injured Andersen. (You can watch that collision in the video above.)
Others brought up a few other possible instances:
Andersen was bumped two other times of note in that first period as well – once about five minutes in, and then again around the halfway point. Both times he was a bit slow getting re-set.
Either way, it’s a big concern for the Maple Leafs. Most immediately, they face Monday’s challenge against the Panthers. If this ends up being significant, could this alter their trade deadline approach, and more? Again, we’ll see.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston shared an early, optimistic report:
Sheldon Keefe says the "results were positive" on Frederik Andersen's concussion test. They'll revisit it in the morning. He may practice tomorrow.
The Panthers keep overcoming mostly hit-or-miss (and sometimes hit by injuries) goaltending by scoring, a lot. Tuesday’s 4-3 win against the Blackhawks marks Florida’s sixth win in a row. They’ve scored at least four goals in every game during that streak.
The Panthers’ strong play extends beyond this streak. Florida carried a strong 13-4-0 run in its last 17 games.
They closed off a three-game road trip, all with wins. They return with another three-game road trip (so technically, it’s six in a row on the road). If they stand strong after this stretch, it would be quite a testament to what Coach Q & Co. are building.
Vatrano caught fire during this six-game winning streak. Tuesday represents the peak of that run, as the winger generated his second NHL hat trick. Vatrano also extended his point streak to five games (five goals, four assists for nine points).
He showed flashes of brilliance in Boston, and has largely converted that into a solid niche with Florida. Vatrano quietly scored 24 goals and 39 points last season. Tuesday’s outburst places Vatrano at 14 goals and 27 points for 2019-20.
Florida needed all three of Vatrano’s goals, as his third ended up being the game-winner. The Panthers were up as much as 3-0 and 4-1, so Chicago fought back, but not enough.
The Rangers generated a massive 42-18 shots on goal advantage on Tuesday, but the Islanders held on for a 4-2 win. Getting outchanced like that remains a cause for concern, but Griess bailed the Isles out with 40 saves.
(Quick thought: is it possible Barry Trotz needs to loosen up when the Islanders hold leads? They lost after coughing up a big one against Washington, and almost invited the Rangers to creep back in on Tuesday.)
Bailey generated three points (1G, 2A), so maybe you’d call him the bigger star over Greiss?
Justin WIlliams continues to make an early impact for Carolina. After producing the shootout-deciding goal in his return, Williams fired in two goals on Tuesday. Not bad, considering his modest 11:45 time on ice.
Teravainen gets the overall edge, though. Like Bailey, Teravainen scored a goal and two assists for three points. The shifty Finn is backing up last season’s almost point-per-game play (76 points in 82 GP), with similar results (48 points in 50 GP).
Andrei Svechnikov demands a mention of his own. The splendid sophomore collected two assists, placing Svechnikov close behind Teravainen with 45 points in 50 GP.
Kreider replaces Panarin at All-Star Game
The Rangers played without Artemi Panarin thanks to an injury. It appears that they’ll have a different All-Star Game representative, as Chris Kreider will replace him.
The Panthers’ .769 points percentage since Christmas ties the Blue Jackets as the league’s second-best mark, according to Sportsnet. The Lightning rank first at .846 since Dec. 25.
Patrick Kane decided not to rest after hitting 1,000 points. He extended his point streak to 11 games (5G, 11A) on Tuesday. Kane joined David Pastrnak as the only two players with two 11+ game point streaks in 2019-20, via NHL PR.
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson will miss Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres after he was suspended one game for boarding Frank Vatrano of the Boston Bruins.
The hit occurred early in the first period during Thursday’s 6-3 Bruins victory. Gudbranson was given a majors for boarding and fighting, along with a game misconduct. The Bruins would take advantage with three power play goals. Vatrano would retun to the game later in the period.
Here’s the Department of Player Safety’s explanation:
Look at many of the suspensions the NHL’s DoPS has handed out for boarding and it’s the same thing over and over again. The suspended player has time to make a better decision on a hit, but fails to do so. Here, Gudbranson could have changed his angle, minimized contact with Vatrano or tie him up along the boards instead of plastering him into the glass.