Injuries Could Derail Maple Leafs
In a season that has already seen the Toronto Maple Leafs have to endure long-term injuries to starting goaltender James Reimer and forwards Tim Connolly and Colby Armstrong, the announcement that both Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur were injured during last nights 3-2 shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes has more than a few fans of the Blue and White concerned.
MacArthur left Tuesday night’s tilt after the second period with what is being reported as an upper-body injury, while Grabovski left the ice late in the third period after a collision at centre.
While there is no word on either players’ status for Thursday nights game against the Nashville Predators, one has to think if Grabovski and MacArthur (two thirds of the Maple Leafs second unit) are out of the lineup they’ll be hard-pressed to earn the win.
In other news, fragile centre Tim Connolly is expected to make his return to the Maple Leafs lineup Thursday night. Connolly was expected to transform the Maple Leafs first unit this season, but has been derailed by two injuries, limiting him to just six games thus far.
Should Grabovski miss Thursday night’s game, look for Tyler Bozak or Matthew Lombardi to fill in on the second line. That said, which player or players will make up that second unit is still up in the air, as only Nikolai Kulemin (Toronto’s other staple on the second line) looks to be healthy enough to play Thursday.
To be fair, Toronto’s second unit of Grabovski, Kulemin and MacArthur has been inconsistent this season, netting a combined total 13 goals and 25 points through a combined 51 games, a far cry from the trio’s 80 goals and 97 assists (177 points) from 2010-11.
Chemistry has been an issue for the Mac-Russian line all season long. That said, as much as the trio has failed to light the lamp on a regular basis they have continued to be tough to play against.
Fortunately, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has assembled a much better supporting cast this season than in days past which should soften the blow of a potential Grabovski and MacArthur-less lineup.
Don’t look for either of Nazem Kadri or Joe Colborne to be called up from the Toronto Marlies. Colborne has been injured, while Kadri has struggled to find his game since he was sent down to the AHL back in late October.
Instead, look for the likes of Joey Crabb, Matt Frattin and Tim Connolly to see an increase in icetime to help off-set the potential losses.
Should Grabovski and MacArthur be out long-term Burke may have to add a player to the roster, but until we have confirmation about their injury status Burke will do nothing.
Injuries have long been a killer for an NHL teams playoff chances. Here’s hoping the injury bug stays away.
Until next time,