Just a few days into the 2020-21 NHL season and teams are already being hit injuries or Covid-related absensces that are affecting their rosters. Some players are being kept out due to an abundance of caution, some are having to wait thanks to travel issues and others are out because of serious issues that could be more long-term that short.
St. Louis Blues Lose Bortuzzo
St. Louis Blues defenseman, Robert Bortuzzo, was placed on injury reserve Sunday after a controversial hit by Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin. Blues faithful were more than a little annoyed when Nichushkin avoided any kind of disciplinary hearing – especially after forward Sammy Blais was suspended two games for an illegal check to the head (Devon Toews) during these teams first game of the back-to-back series.
The Blues still have seven active defenseman on the roster and have not called up a member of the taxi squad accordingly.
Another notable, but expected, addition to LTIR this past week was Blues star winger Vladamir Tarasenko. The latest news seems to indicate that the Russian sniper will have his shoulder revaluated some time in mid-February. The shoulder in question required a third surgery in the Fall of 2020.
Coyotes Without Ekman-Larsson?
Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet revealed that defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, is considering day-to-day after a big hit from San Jose’s Evander Kane. It is being ruled as a lower-body injury and it is expected he will skip the road trip to Las Vegas, taking him out at least two games.
Boston Bruins Get a Boost
The Boston Bruins received a boost to their lineup when Brad Marchand and Kevan Miller were activated from the injured reserve list this week. Both veterans were in the line up Saturday afternoon when the New Jersey Devils narrowly beat the Bruins in overtime (final score 2-1).
Marchand had a helper on the only Bruins goal — fittingly scored by freshly minted captain Patrice Bergeron. Miller got himself back into the swing of things during a heated dust up with Devils winger Miles Wood.
Boston now awaits the triumphant return of the high flying and offensively gifted David Pastrňák. The 24-year-old Czech has been recovering from offseason hip surgery but was on the ice for the first time earlier in the week. His original return date was slated for some time in early February. However, the latest reports have him ahead of schedule so Bruins fans should not have to wait much longer now!
Unfortunately, head coach Bruce Cassidy said that Ondrej Kase is doubtful for Monday’s game against the New York Islanders. he suffered an upper-body injury, as per Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty.
Penguins Lose Matheson
It looks like the Pittsburgh Penguins might be without recently acquired defensemen in Mike Matheson for a while. Head coach Mike Sullivan said that the blueliner would be out “longer term,” with an upper-body injury that he sustained in the team’s previous game against Philadelphia.
As per Mike DeFabo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Matheson is not expected to play Tuesday against the Washington Capitals either.
Dallas Stars Stealing Deal With Outbreak
The Dallas Stars are doing their best to move forward amidst the Covid-19 outbreak that has impacted a reported 17 players. Wishing a safe recovery for all players and staff infected.
It has been a wild ride for the Stars franchise over the past 12 plus months. From former head coach, Jim Montgomery’s surprising removal, to losing starting goaltender Ben Bishop, and then the subsequent revelatory play of Anton Khudobin during the playoffs. Not to mention the outstanding interim – now fulltime – coaching job by Rick Bowness. He avoided what could have been a disaster and instead guided the club to its first Stanley Cup appearance since 2000.
Whenever the Stars are able to play, they will be without goaltender Ben Bishop. I have not seen any recent updates on his timetable for return, but he was officially placed on the long term-injured reserve this past week. That means Dallas will run with Khudobin and 22-year-old Jake Oettinger as their goaltending tandem.
This is a great opportunity for Oettinger. The Stars selected with the 26th pick in 2017. To date, the Minnesotan has not seen NHL action but will certainly be called upon with such a compact Stars schedule. Whenever that debut might be, it will be an exciting evening for Oettinger, his family and friends.
Oilers Goaltending Situation Messy
The Edmonton Oilers placed backup Mike Smith on LTIR this week and it hasn’t been explained as to why. All that’s been revealed is that he’ll miss at least a few weeks and the Oilers are scrambling to find a suitable backup to Mikko Koskinen.
The Oilers claims Troy Grosenick on waivers from the LA Kings, but need to wait for him to quarantine and it’s not necessarily believed he’ll be the long-term option.
Sabres Don’t Have Reinhart
Sam Reinhart was not at Buffalo Sabres practice and remains questionable after a lower-body injury in Friday’s game. According to the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington, the team is still playing without Kyle Okposo, who hasn’t played a game yet this season. He remains day-to-day.
Other COVID-Related Absences
The longer the season goes on, the bigger the list of players who are out on a day-to-day basis will grow. The NHL publicly releases the list of players and today’s list included:
Carolina – Jordan Staal
Columbus – Mikko Koivu
Detroit – Christian Djoos
Minnesota – Alex Stalock
Nashville – Mikael Granlund
New Jersey – Eric Comrie
Philadelphia – Shayne Gostisbehere
Tampa Bay – Curtis McElhinney
Vancouver – Jordie Benn
Winnipeg – Anton Forsberg; Tucker Poolman
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