With power forward Rick Nash already sidelined with post-concussion syndrome and Carl Hagelin still recovering from postseason shoulder injury, the New York Rangers could scarcely afford to lose Ryan Callahan to a broken thumb.
But they did.
The feisty team captain suffered the injury blocking a shot during a 2-0 victory over the Capitals. (John Tortorella would be most proud!) Callahan figures to miss the next three to four weeks.
Darroll Powe arrived from the AHL to fill Callahan’s penalty-killing role, but he cannot replace his offense and physical play. Callahan scored three times in five games for the Rangers, who lost four of their first five games this season.
How many games can the Rangers win with Callahan, Hagelin and Nash sidelined for significant time? Wish new coach Alain Vigneault the best of luck holding this team together.
Here are some other serious early-season injuries impacting the early competition:
James Neal, W, Penguins: He is sidelined for several weeks with an upper body injury, which may be an oblique muscle strain. This possible muscle strain was NOT caused by playing whiffle ball – according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. But that was a pretty cool rumor, one that elicited chuckles from the Pens-hating Flyers fans.
Max Pacioretty, W, Canadiens: He is sidelined for three weeks with a hamstring strain. Pacioretty seemed primed for a big season after scoring 39 points in 44 games last season. “It's bad luck, but it could have been a lot worse," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien told reporters. “We're going to take the time to make sure he gets better. But in the meantime it's not such bad news.”
Dan Boyle, D, Sharks: He suffered a concussion from a thoughtless check from behind from Blues agitator Maxim Lapierre. Since Boyle was knocked out on the ice, the team will handle his comeback with considerable care. No timetable has been established for his return.
“I'm OK," he wrote in a text to a San Jose Mercury News reporter. “That was scary. Hopefully the symptoms will be very minor, if any, going forward.”
Niklas Kronwall, D, Red Wings: Like Boyle, he was knocked out after absorbing a hard check into the boards. Avalanche forward Cody McLeod did the hitting. (He got a boarding major penalty, a game misconduct and the scrutiny of the league office.) Kronwall is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion. “Tough situation for him, anytime you get hit like that, you're out cold,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock told reporters after the game. “You're scared to say the least. These hits are things we've got to get out of the game.”
Sam Gagner, C, Oilers: Edmonton won just one of its first seven games with this invaluable No. 2 center recovering from a broken jaw. Fill-in center Mark Arcobello earned six assists in those first seven games and did stellar work on faceoffs, but this team still lost valuable scoring depth. In Gagner’s absence second-year winger Nail Yakupov cratered -- triggering speculation he could return to the KHL and become a trade chip in the not-so-distant future.
Scott Hartnell, W, Flyers: His rough start got worse with an upper body injury that could sideline him for a few weeks. Tye McGinn stepped up from the AHL to score a couple of goals, but this floundering team sorely misses Hartnell’s menacing physical presence. With big center Vincent Lecavalier (lower body) and defenseman Kimmo Timonen also on the shelf, this team far less imposing.
Charlie Coyle, C, Wild: He entered the season with an opportunity to solidify his role as the No. 2 center. Instead he suffered a sprained knee that will sideline him for three to four weeks and leave coach Mike Yeo scrambling to find to good offensive line combinations.
Alexandre Burrows, W, Canucks: He is recovering from a broken foot that could sideline him for several more weeks. That injury knocked him off the top Vancouver line with the Sedin twins. Mike Santorelli is currently holding his spot in that line.