With hockey being such a physical sport, injuries are part of the gig. However, these major injuries to key players could sink their team’s playoff chances.
Hockey is a team sport but some players are the glue that keeps everything together. The major injuries to these players could spell doom for these NHL team’s playoff hopes unless the rest of the players can step up in a big way.
Here are three injuries that could cost their team’s chances:
1. Frederik Andersen (Neck) – Toronto Maple Leafs
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Frederik Andersen had a tough game against the Florida Panthers on Februrary 3rd. He was collided into twice and didn’t return after the first period. No one knows which one of the collisions caused the injury but the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that their starting goaltender would be “day-to-day” with a neck injury.
The injury to the neck is particularly concerning due to Andersen’s history of concussions. The trade that Kyle Dubas made to bring in Jack Campbell from the LA Kings also indicates that Andersen will not be returning in the near future.
Considering the style of hockey that the Leafs like to play, losing Andersen is a huge blow. Toronto scores a lot and counts on their goaltender to bail them out when their high-risk offense goes against them.
It’s a tough gig and not many goalies the Leafs had been able to step up to the challenge. Andersen has been in net in 24 of the Leafs’ 28 wins. When he’s not in net, the team has gone 4-10-1. Unless Jack Campbell can stop the bleeding, the Leafs’ playoff hopes are quickly slipping away.
2. Mark Giordano (Hamstring) – Calgary Flames
On Tuesday, Mark Giordano went down with a hamstring injury. According to the Calgary Flames, he will be “week-to-week” but won’t require any surgery. While the no-surgery part is a relief for the Flames, losing a Norris-winning defenseman when the team is in a tight playoff race is a huge blow.
Calgary has yet to win since the embarrassing 8-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers and losing their captain is the icing on the cake. Having to replace a player who plays 23:57 minutes a night and has 27 points (5G 22A) will be tough for the Flames, especially considering their scoring problems.
The Flames currently have sole possession of the second wild-card spot but the Nashville Predators are just one point behind and have been playing very hot. The Predators have won two straight and are 6-4 in their last 10 games which is the opposite of the Flames who are on a three-game losing skid.
With the mountain of struggles Calgary has gone through this season from firing their head coach to all their star scorers having career-worst seasons, losing Giordano could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
3. Dougie Hamilton (Broken Fibula) – Carolina Hurricanes
Dougie Hamilton suffered a broken fibula against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 16. He was in the conversation for the Norris this season as he was on pace for the best season of his career. His 40 points (14G 26A) is fourth-best on the Hurricanes despite already missing 7 games with his injury. Not only is he an integral part of Carolina’s defense, but he is key offensively as the team struggles to score on a consistent basis.
Since losing Hamilton, the team has gone 4-2-1 and five of those teams were playoff teams. That is pretty impressive and the Hurricanes have done a good job of filling in for Hamilton. However, the loss of production with Hamilton out will impact the team as the season goes on.
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General manager Don Waddell has already said publicly that the injury to their key defenseman has put him on the buyers market for this year’s Trade Deadline. If he can acquire a player that can make up for the lost production then Carolina still has a shot. This team cannot go on winning without key offensive contributions so unless Waddell can make a splash, the Hurricanes’ road will be very tough to navigate, especially with two other teams fighting for their final wild-card spot.