Injuries Impacting Western Conference Playoff Races

Toews hurt

Blackhawks fans watched Jonathan Toews skate off the ice in pain on Sunday night in Pittsburgh, and a roster already missing Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell had another hole to fill.

Unfortunately for the NHL, the Hawks aren’t the only team missing a key player or two right now. And injuries to significant players could have a major impact on the postseason in the Western Conference.

  • St. Louis
    Forward Vladimir Tarasenko will miss at least six weeks after requiring hand surgery.
  • Anaheim
    Defenseman Cam Fowler will miss 2-4 more weeks with a sprained MCL.
  • Colorado
    Forward Matt Duchene will miss four weeks with a knee injury.
  • San Jose
    Forward Tomas Hertl has been out since Dec. 19 with a knee injury.
    Defenseman Brad Stuart has been out since Feb. 7 with an upper-body injury.
    Forward Adam Burish broke a finger last week and is out indefinitely.
  • Minnesota
    Forward Jason Zucker is expected to miss the rest of the season because of a right leg injury.
    Goaltender Nicklas Backstrom will miss the rest of the season after having abdominal surgery.
  • Phoenix
    Goaltender Mike Smith will miss 1-2 weeks with a lower-body injury.
  • Dallas
    Forward Erik Cole will miss another week with an upper-body injury.
    Forward Rich Peverley’s season is over after having heart surgery.

The only team in the Western Conference playoff picture with a “clean” injury report right now is the LA Kings, but a number of their key players have been dealing with injuries throughout the season.

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42 Responses to Injuries Impacting Western Conference Playoff Races

  1. RyanDale says:

    thats a bunch, nobody wants to see that

  2. Indian Chief Motocycles says:

    strange vibes about?

  3. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    You had me until mention of Adam Burish being out with an injury. Not exactly a loss of any consequence.

  4. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    You had me until you mentioned Hertl who has been out almost all season.

  5. Tab Bamford says:

    We mentioned Burish because he’s a former Blackhawk.

    If you clicked the link embedded in the Hertl line, you would have read that the Sharks are actually getting healthy right now, which is what makes Hertl relevant.

  6. ebonyraptor says:

    The extent of injury is known for everyone on the list except Toews. If Toews is out for an extended period (2+ weeks), I would say the Hawks are much worse off than any other team on that list. The concern with Toews is more than when he’s cleared to play, it’s when he will be back to 100% effectiveness. We’ve seen that he comes back from injury well before he plays at 100%. He plays along the wall and needs that shoulder to be back to normal to be effective, plus I imagine faceoff effectiveness will be impacted is he doesn’t have full strencth there. All caution should be given toward that end. Therefore even if Toews is “ready” to play before the playoffs, I would seriously consider shutting him down until the playoffs start. Home ice is secondary to having Toews as healthy as he can be.

  7. Mike says:

    I know Toews was holding his arm, but my biggest concern is he is suffering from another concussion. All teams, regardless of what sport, deal with injuries and players much less than 100%. It is simply the nature of competition.

    Whether the Hawks exit early or overcome adversity, injuries will always play a role. What puzzles me is the roster moves made over the past 3 or 4 months. It seems that management does not believe in their own preparation of players.

    For example, the devastated Red Wings are inching toward a playoff spot using 6 or 8 guys every night from Grand Rapids. Guys who were only expected to play a game here and there. Am I suggesting the Wings are a great team with these guys….no, but you have to be impressed with their preparation and the belief of management in their guys.

    Have the Hawks made use out of their AHL guys…..hardly. Instead we trade for Rundblad & Regin instead of giving a couple guys from Rockford the chance to play. Where is our embarrassment of riches when we need them??

  8. JS says:

    The Rundblad deal still makes no sense to me. I know that Stan has apparently tried to pick him up a few different times. He must see something in the guy, just have to wonder what that something is. The guy has a really high ceiling, I think (hope) he’ll just need the offseason to adjust to the Hawks system.

    As far as Regin and PMB, that is a Stan Bowman move. Every trade deadline the guy acquires a depth center. It was obvious to him that Q didn’t want Pirri, so he made a move to get more of a Q guy (that Q keeps benching even though he’s playing really really good hockey).

    Hawks have a good farm system, but a lot of their talent is still really green. Detroit has had the advantage of having the same brain behind the operation for… well just about ever. A lot of Bowman’s picks are just getting to the AHL. Danault and McNeil started off really nice, but they hit the rookie wall. It’s their first pro season and that can happen. It might not even be next year, but the talent will come. I know no one wants to hear about Pirri anymore (had a beauty of a goal yesterday), but with the injury to Toews, it would be really nice to still have him around. Not that he could replace Toews, but he could certainly help on the offensive end of the rink if he was paired with the right players.

    Hertl is also extremely important to the Sharks. If he comes back healthy for the playoffs, that is a team I fear.

  9. JS says:

    Also, you have to wonder if Handzus is playing hurt. His faceoffs have been mediocre this year and he’s basically stopped taking them. When Shaw is taking draws over him, you have to think something is up. Also, benching him after the Toews injury? He has to be suffering from something more than just old age.

  10. Mike57 says:

    Mike – absolutely right! If Q would give guys more than 8 minutes every 3rd game, maybe they could become the player they are supposed to be in 3 to 4 games.
    I question how often I hear the Hawks gave the team the day off instead of practicing and how the Hawks practice the least of any team because Q knows they need rest. How can guys like Morin, Regin, and any other player fit in without the practice time with teammates. I always thought you practiced to build endurance and continuity. Two things lacking from the Hawks game this year. I always hoped we were saving the all out effort for the playoffs and now we may just limp into the second season with injuries and without the momentum needed. We have seen these same players put together some great games this year so we know the talent is there. Can they turn it on when they need it? Q will earn his contract if he can pull out a long playoff run this year.

  11. AJ says:

    So a lot of people lost their mind about a legal hit. That is cool I guess. If he is day to day than it can’t be too serious. Hopefully he didn’t rattle his dome. It sure would be great if the Hawks had some coverage at center. Like maybe another player who digs in the corners, wins draws and has finish. #keslerwatch

    I will be redundant and say losing Kane is something they cope with very poorly. And say again that he is the lil engine that makes the Hawks go.

  12. Peter says:

    Tab, I have to know…does it drive you crazy when the posters here (myself included) think the Hawks are the best team ever after a win and that a pee wee, midget team could beat them after a loss?

  13. Tab Bamford says:

    re: Peter – Does it drive me crazy? LOL… no. This is Chicago – it’s what we do.

  14. goldenbladz says:

    I agree with you Mike and not all the Grand Rpids call ups are seasoned AHLers. Tomas Jurco has been playing great and is only a couple of years out of QMJHL with the Sea Dogs. So Babcock is doing a great job with these kids.

  15. ebonyraptor says:

    Is PMB playing center in Rockford? He hasn’t played center in the NHL in many years. His best years were as a winger after he was moved from center. With his reluctance to engage physically, I would be very surprised that he ever plays center in the NHL again.

  16. Peter says:

    ER, I saw one game in Des Moines and PMB was being centered by Pirri and played on a line with Morin. I could visibly see PMB not engage in puck battles and he really timed his chances to avoid hits unless it assurred possession or a shot on goal from one of the forwards.

  17. ebonyraptor says:

    Peter – thanks, that’s what I thought. If Toews and Handzus are not available for some games and they decide to bring up someone from Rockford, it probably won’t be PMB – at least not to play center.

  18. morrison says:

    How many days do we have to sign Johns, from when his season started/college career started… or do you think we will wait about another wk.

  19. Mike57 says:

    Maybe Sharp can return to center. He said some guys would have to step up. He can be that lead guy by jumping into the hot seat and driving a line. Always good at the dot and if he takes a leadership role and plays both ways it would be interesting. Smith can play center, did a respectful job when he got his chance at 2C. Didn’t we pick up 12 to play center? How’s Mills been in Rockford? He was interesting when he played.

  20. Tab Bamford says:

    re: Stephen Johns (and Kevin Hayes for that matter) – here’s what it says in the new CBA:

    8.6 (c) (iv)

    If a Player drafted at age 18 or 19, who had received a Bona Fide Offer in accordance with Section 8.6(a)(ii) above, becomes a bona fide college student prior to the second June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft and does not remain a bona fide college student through the graduation of his college class, his drafting Club shall retain exclusive rights for the negotiation of his services until the later of:

    (a) the fourth June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft,

    or (b) thirty (30) days after NHL Central Registry receives notice that the Player is no longer a bona fide college student;

    provided that **IF** the Player ceases to be a bona fide college student on or after January 1 of an academic year and the Player:

    (1) is in his fourth year of college and has commenced his fourth year of NCAA eligibility,

    or (2) is in his fourth year of college and is scheduled to graduate from college at the end of his fourth year, then in the circumstances described in (1) or (2), the Club shall retain the exclusive right of negotiation for such Player’s services through and including the August 15 following the date on which he ceases to be a bona fide college student.

    That answers the “how long do they have to sign him?” question… if they want to see them on the ice at some level during the 13-14 season, they obviously cannot wait until August.

  21. goldenbladz says:

    It wasn’t a legal hit according to an ex referee Kerry Fraser:

    Rule 42.1 tells us that a minor or major shall be imposed on a player who “jumps into” an opponent. The “jump” element of this rule was once applied when a player’s skates lost contact with the ice. Charging is seldom called in the current era of the game, where players leave their feet with far more frequency in the act of delivering a body check than ever before. The most common “excuse” for not calling this infraction is that a player’s skates did not completely leave the ice prior to initiating body contact. This generous and liberal interpretation is extended to include times when the toe tip of one skate remains in contact with the ice at impact.

    Referees should be directed to impose a charging penalty in every case when a player’s skates leave the ice in the act of delivering a body check, period. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the end game; just a medical scientist!

    Now keep in mind the referees during the game doesn’t get the chance to disect the video like he did so you can’t really blame the officials but they have to try…..just saying

  22. JS says:

    It was a legal hit according to people that actually matter, so we can drop it. Refs on the ice declared it legal, department of player saftey (who probably want their super stars to be protected) also called it legal. What Kerry Fraser says doesn’t matter.

  23. Mike57 says:

    Tab, thought Hayes played really good in the games I saw. Nice hands, good vision. Didn’t see as much of Johns – Big kid that skates decent as far as I did see. Do you see either making the big club next year?

  24. AJ says:

    *See every single Andrew Shaw hit attempt. None legal. Many legitimate charges.

    Or is he exempt cause he’s a lil guy and y’all get all excited over his grindy lunch pail ‘ChitKAgo’ style heart and passionate love for shin pads…

  25. Tab Bamford says:

    Johns has had the eye of the organization for a few years and I think he’s got a great shot at making the NHL roster. He’s a big, physical defenseman… something the organization doesn’t have much of under contract. Hayes has had a fantastic bounce-back senior year, but we’ve talked at length about the problems forwards have making the NHL roster in Chicago. There just aren’t many open spots up front on the big league roster right now. I like Hayes’ game a lot…

    both need a contract before they can show up in the Indian head, though

  26. Negzz says:

    @JS: I agree that the hit was deemed legal and that’s that, but that’s not the POINT. As virtually everyone that has played the game has opined, including Olczyk, Murray, and many other former Hawks- it’s the fact that the entire team turtled and showed no guts and/or character in protecting their captain when he was hit with a clear attempt to injure/take him out. As I posted yesterday while still furious, that would never have happened to the 2010 unit back when we had players that were protecting their skilled comrades. I smiled when I read Eddie O’s commentary on the link below, it was virtually the same thing I thought/posted when referring to Ladd, Eager, Burish, Brouwer, Byfulien etc.. : http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/blackhawks/post/_/id/4681315/olczyk-toews-injury-called-for-retaliation

  27. JS says:

    You know who liked the way they responded? Their coach. I’m going to take the side of their coach with 700 NHL wins and 2 rings in the last 4 years. Not Eddie “Keep your stick on the ice” Olczyk or Fanboy Murray. Olczyk had a stellar coaching record of 31-64-18, he certainly knew the proper way to lead a team!

    It’s easy to say that those guys would have done something different in 2010, but guess what? We’ll never know.

    Orpik hit Toews with a hard, legal body check. His intent was to separate him from the puck within the rules of the game, and he did just that. What physical defensemen doesn’t salivate at the idea of destroying someone that has their head down, regardless of the name on the back of their sweater? Didn’t Keith run Oshie when he had the puck in his feet just a few weeks ago? Did you see Muzzin destroy Nino Niederreiter yesterday when he had the puck at his feet?

    I said it yesterday, I’m going with this being an age thing. The younger sports writers are saying that the Hawks had the proper response in trying to win the game, the older guys are calling for blood and saying the points weren’t important. I think winning games and lessening the pressure on Toews to come back quickly is the best thing you can do.

  28. wall says:

    Negzz, I had same exact thought about 2010 Hawks…
    Ladd, Buff, etc. someone stands up on that team!!!

    Only I didn’t say it because I knew what the response would be from my boy JS… (we will never know)
    And I wasn’t in the mood to argue with him… But I do support your thought!!!

  29. Phil says:

    Sorry JS, dragging down Troy Murray with the Tazer-Orpik episode is BS. The guy bled for the Indian head. He knows the game better than any us of ever will. He was a good player in the NHL. Troy’s points after the game were simple. You have to have the Cpt.’s back. Clearly, there is a real disagreement on this board as to what response the Hawks/any team should take when other teams are attempting to injure your top players. Make no mistake in observing that play. Orpik was trying to hurt Tazer, and succeeded. Let me explain it this way JS, if I were playing on your team and someone laid you out like Orpik did to Towes, I would have gone after the guy and the game be damned. Other teams can’t be allowed to think they can get away with that stuff, especially if its your Cpt. The offending player needs to be schooled. Then again given your attitude, maybe I just wouldn’t care and let it slide. Hockey takes the pack mentality to a higher level than many sports. In the case of the Hawks Pens game the other night, the message sent was loud and clear. They didn’t care, and for an older guy like me, that ain’t right.

    I agree with your assessment though that this is becoming an age thing with the fans, and the timid, lame ass sports writers here that kiss Q’s ass and can’t ask the hard questions. I know some successful college players that all said the zero response from the Hawks was lame and suggestive that this team lacks serious character. One hears that the dressing room is great with the Hawks, guys are tight. Would have loved to hear what was said after period 2 the other night.

    The Keith check on Oshie 2 weeks ago was just a stand up check. There was absolutely no attempt to injure on this play. I understand that players with their heads down puck watching except some responsibility.

    Sorry JS while I respect your opinions we have to agree to disagree on this one.

  30. Claude Crane says:

    A lot of talk about a “response being required.” True–and especially to AJ’s obnoxious, anti-Chicago comments. So: Hey, pompous, arrogant asshole AJ: You don’t like how we old school Chicago sports fans think? Well fuck you. Get the fuck out of town and off this board.

  31. ebonyraptor says:

    I feel better after Q said (again) on his radio show tonight that Toews’ injury is not serious and is considered day to day. Obviously he knows the results of the MRI and he would have no reason to lie and say day to day if he knew Toews wouldn’t be able to play for weeks or longer. They will probably not rush him back for regular season games though and I wouldn’t be surprised if they hold him out until the playoffs – especially if Colorado pulls farther ahead and it’s unlikley the Hawks will catch them.

  32. morrison says:

    Thanks Tab. Was thinking we sign both guys in about another wk, when both are available to sign & announce it at same time…

    Yea, ER that’s what matters the most and is more important then homeice, even though homeice helps. When you have to, everytime choose having everybody/being 100% is key. Plus with all of these things happening (even though it sucks at the time not to be winning/8-2 in last 10games) will help us because that’s 4 guys that are going to well rested/fresher then they would have been wasteing energy trying to get meaningless presidents awards.

  33. goldenbladz says:

    JS people that matter???? I was simply posting Kerry Fraser’s thoughts on the hit and he believes it wasn’t legal. He has the benefit of reviewing video which the on ice officials don’t. The officials on the ice make blunders every night so don’t tell me they are the end all be all and Player safety lol??? You think Brendan Shanahan (who crossed the line on many occasions) has more knowledge on the rules that an ex official.

  34. AJ says:

    It was more condescending than anything else and your response proved my point. I love this beautiful city, however the sports fans who think it is still 1987 and that is OK to physically assault someone playing within the rules strikes me as rather obtuse.

    Still waiting for a response on Shaw’s style of play. He leaves his feet every check and most are borderline charges and he clearly tries to hurt people. I am confused as to why it is ok for a Blackhawks player to play on the “edge” while other teams aren’t allowed to go near that realm.

    Don’t a lot of people here clamor for Bickell to play on the “edge” or “meaner” or whatever a lot more? It seems like there is one heck of an arbitrary line being drawn between what is and isn’t acceptable.

  35. JS says:

    Believe me, I really like Troy Murray, I think him and Wiedeman are as good as it gets… but we all know that he sees things through Hawks colored glasses. He gets emotionally caught up and is a huge homer in regard to a lot of things that happen on the ice. He reminds me of Ron Santo, in a way.

    I just don’t understand how we can see something as an attempt to injure when it was a check within the confines of the rules. Every time someone delivers a body check they want to hurt the other player. They aren’t doing it to give them a massage. They want that person to feel pain so they second guess themselves the next time they are in a similar position.

    I’m not sure how Orpik hitting someone with his head down is intent to injure, but Keith doing a similar thing isn’t. In fact, right after the hit, Sobotka challenged Keith which caused Keith to laugh and carry on with playing. Should one of the Blues then made it their mission to take a run at Toews or Kane? (I know they do this anyway… but for the most part they are within the confines of the rules)

    As far as sports media that covers the Hawks… I don’t think they can ask the tough questions without fear of the Hawks shutting them out. No one ever questions Q’s decisions and a lot of times it bothers the shit out of me. I know Toews was the story after Sundays game, but couldn’t one person ask why Handzus didn’t play? Or why he isn’t taking faceoffs? Or what the kids need to do better to earn more ice time? And then we he responds with “I want them to be better in the defensive zone”, ask “what can they do better in the defensive zone?”

    The Hawks are as tight of an organization as it gets, as far as their image to the media. That’s why it surprised me that Eddie went off on the tirade about standing up for your captain on the radio the other day. He’s one of the teams most prominent figureheads and him going off message is weird to me.

  36. ebonyraptor says:

    I’m probably not alone in wishing this debate would just go away. Too many panties in a wad on this for too long, on both sides of the debate. I’m not saying it isn’t a worthy topic to discuss – it is, but I’m just about gagging on it at this point.

  37. JR Roman says:

    I read all the posts. I was a season ticket holder from ’86 to ’98. I see the point of the new Hawks fans of winning with skilled players. I must agree with the old Hawk fans that a response was needed after the Toews hit. Believe me that all other playoff bound teams took note that nothing happened after our Cpt was run.

    The ’10 Cup team made it possible for the ’13 Cup team to happen. I do not mind two years between Cups, would like a back to back to back but it keeps the celebrations fresh. Lets not forget that it was a 42 game season that didn’t beat up our skilled Cup champs and an 82 game season that our ’10 Cup champs fought thru. To have a Stanley Cup favored team year in and year out we need more grit. To please everyone there is skilled grit talent out there. Lets go find it.

  38. Negzz says:

    @JS: Now THAT’s funny, you saying you’re going with coach Q’s “decision” to not retaliate because “Q has 700 wins, 2 rings, etc.” This coming from YOU, one of Quenneville’s more ardent critics on this board. Too funny. As for your other points:

    Anyone who has played this game understands fully the significant difference between delivering a hard hit with the intent to inflict some “playing pain” on your opponent, and doing so with an intent to INJURE and take someone OUT. You can accomplish both within the rules, it’s a matter of the player choosing to go over the top (and injure), or hold back just enough to deliver a hard message (but not injure). Trust me, as a big guy (I’m 6’3″ and have been a d-man my whole life), you KNOW when you have someone in a vulnerable position. Legal or not (let’s focus on the legal, not dirty shots), you have a choice, and sometimes based on the game, emotions, relationship with that team/player, etc- you decide to unload fully knowing you may knock him out, injure him, etc. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve done it. But know this for sure, when/if you do, you know there is a price you’ll have to pay. It’s the code in hockey, you’ve either experienced it or you haven’t. Your proposition that “Every time someone delivers a body check they want to hurt the other player” is NOT true and is playing with semantics.
    2. Degrading Olczyk, Murray etc is uncalled for and BS. They played the game at the highest level and they know the game and the code far better than you will ever understand. Saying that Q must have held the team back demonstrating a philosophical difference is also speculation. Q was head coach when Ladd pounded Kesler in 2010, was he not? Or when Eager, Burrish and Buff patrolled and protected their young skill stars in 2010, was he not? So he’s had a change in “heart” since then and wants a more gentlemanly game? Doubtful. I don’t personally understand it, but perhaps THIS team simply does not have anyone capable of handling these chores and Quenneville knows it. Perhaps he knew he had no choice but not enter a gun fight armed with pocket knife…

    Regardless, sometimes the team has to take matters in their own hands and stand up for what’s right. Olczyk know it. Murray knows it. Damn near anyone who has ever played the game knows it. I thought this was one of those moments. I’m just hoping we make some changes to the roster this offseason and that the return of Bickell, the signing of Johns, etc can bring some size and a physical presence back to balance the team in that respect.

  39. Negzz says:

    @ER, That’s all I have to say on the subject.

  40. Phil says:

    I have said as much, probably too much on this topic. ER is right, it’s enough. Let’s move on and get back to Blackhawks hockey. I’d have rather we discussed this over beers anyway. The keyboard sucks. It would be fun to meet up somewhere, sometime.

    Lets’ Go Hawks!

  41. JS says:

    I just want to add one more thing before we sweep that under the rug. I’m a critic of Q’s line up decisions and line combinations. I enjoy what he does coaching wise and don’t think I’ve ever said differently (besides when I ranted last week about him not punishing people for flying the zone and playing “stretch pass turn over”). As Brad says, the guy is one of the best bench coaches ever.

    I’ve been trying to say it’s something we won’t agree on. We just have different viewpoints from our experiences with the game. Old school is going to be old school, new school is going to be new school.

  42. JS says:

    And Phil, I’m always willing to meet for drinks and hockey! Just not with Rufus, he wants to punch me in the throat.

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