This week we take a look at how injuries will affect the Western Conference playoff picture. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Eastern Conference update!
Cam Fowler – The Ducks’ defenseman suffered a shoulder injury last Sunday and was expected to miss two to six weeks. We’re about a week into that timetable and he hasn’t started skating, which is to be expected. Fowler eats up a lot of minutes for Anaheim (25+ a night), so it’ll be interesting to see how coach Randy Carlyle adapts.
John Gibson – Anaheim’s starting goaltender faced shots from his teammates during Monday’s practice and has made great progress from an upper-body injury that kept him out of the team’s final three regular season games. Goalies are usually close to a return when they start taking shots (not the alcoholic kind of course), so I’d say it’s more likely than not he starts against the Sharks on Thursday. Gibson really held the Ducks together (he was their Duck tape) as they battled through injuries this season – he posted a 2.43 GAA and .926 SV% with a 31-18-7 record. In the event he’s not ready for the team’s playoff opener, veteran Ryan Miller should have no trouble filling in. Miller posted a solid 2.35 GAA and .928 through 28 appearances in the regular season.
Semyon Varlamov – A knee injury will keep the Avalanche goaltender out for the entirety of the first round. As if an opening matchup against the Predators wasn’t tough enough… Varlamov played a key role in Colorado’s push for the playoffs, posting a.937 SV% and 2.21 GAA in the final month of the regular season. Backup Jonathan Bernier recently dealt with his own injury in the form of a concussion and will be in tough against the President’s Trophy-winning Predators.
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Los Angeles Kings
Alex Iafallo – Skated alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown during Monday’s practice, meaning there’s a good chance he plays against the Golden Knights on Wednesday. The 24-year old rookie had 25 points in 75 regular season games.
Jake Muzzin – Felt good during Monday’s practice but didn’t take any contact – so it wasn’t a full practice. Muzzin hasn’t been ruled out for Wednesday’s game just yet as the team continues to monitor his daily progress. While I don’t think he’ll be in the lineup for game one, I’d expect him back some time during the series. Muzzin had a great regular season with 42 points in 74 games.
Derek Forbort – Of the three injured Kings, Forbort is the furthest from a return – he was on crutches just last week. It looks like Oscar Fantenberg will see an increased role with both Forbort and Muzzin injured.
Ryan Suter – The Wild defenseman won’t be available for the playoffs as he will be recovering from ankle surgery. It will be months before he can even put weight on the ankle. Suter’s absence will create a big hole on Minnesota’s blue line – replacing the 26:47 of ice-time he averaged this season will be no easy task. Suter was fourth in team scoring with 51 points in 78 games.
Jared Spurgeon – Participated in Monday’s practice but is yet to be medically cleared for game one on Wednesday. Minnesota is going to need Spurgeon to lessen the impact of Suter’s absence, I’d expect him to be in the lineup even if he isn’t 100%. Spurgeon tallied an impressive 37 points in 61 games this season – averaging 24:33 of ice-time. Beating the Jets without Suter and Spurgeon would be Wild.
Yannick Weber – Day-to-day with an upper body injury. Participated in Monday’s practice but didn’t take any conctact. At this point, I wouldn’t expect Weber to be in the lineup on Thursday when Nashville beings its postseason run. When your defensemen include P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, and Ryan Ellis, I think you can afford to rest Yannick Weber.
Calle Jarnkrok – Was wearing a non-contact jersey during Monday’s practice. While General Manager David Poile expressed Jarnkrok was getting close to a return, we still don’t know if he’ll be available for round one.
San Jose Sharks
Barclay Goodrow – Is an option for game one.
Vegas Golden Knights
David Perron – When Coach Gerard Gallant was asked whether Perron would be in the lineup for game one on Wednesday, he responded with a detailed “I don’t know”. Imagine if all professionals gave such detailed answers! “Doctor, what’s wrong with me?” “I don’t know.” “Officer, why are you arresting me?” “I don’t know.” In all seriousness, Gallant went on to say that “everybody is ready to go, and we’ll see where it goes”. That seems to indicate everyone – including Perron – is healthy. I don’t know why a healthy Perron would be kept out of game one considering he totalled 66 points in 70 regular season games.
Toby Enstrom – Won’t be in the lineup when Winnipeg begins their quest for the Cup on Wednesday, but he is getting close to a return. While he hasn’t been ruled out for game two, he hasn’t been skating recently.
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