Yesterday as the Wild celebrated a 3-2 shootout victory against the Calgary Flames, two of the team’s top defensemen weren’t on the ice.
Jared Spurgeon was the victim of a high elbow from Calgary’s Alex Tanguay during the first period. The Calgary forward left the ice for a two-minute elbowing penalty, but the hit left Spurgeon with a concussion. Watching the replay, Tanguay carelessly flails his elbow and it catches Spurgeon square on the chin. Regardless of the defenseman’s height, the elbow was clear and high.
For a team that has been ravaged by injuries all season, the loss of Spurgeon, who has arguably been the team’s most consistent defenseman, is especially damaging. This will be the second time that the blue liner will miss time because of, what Head Coach Mike Yeo described as, dirty hits. Earlier in the season, Colorado’s Cody McLeod hit Spurgeon from behind. Well have to wait to see if Tanguay is disciplined by the NHL.
Marco Scandella left in the third period after blocking a shot and also didn’t finish the game. Scandella slid to block a shot and the puck caught him in the upper body. But, Yeo expects him to be available, barring any setbacks, Saturday as the Wild travels to Buffalo to face the Sabers.
With Spurgeon out, the Wild will have six defensemen and Kurtis Foster will re-enter the lineup. Justin Falk has started to skate, but will not be ready this weekend.
Wild TV has video of Yeo addressing the media, here.
If the Wild do need a defenseman, it will have to be in an emergency call-up situation, with another player going down to injury. But, seriously, the Wild has been hit with so many injuries this season, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope that doesn’t happen.
The Wild has only 12 healthy forwards because Matt Kassian is dealing with a groin injury.
Because the NCAA Men’s Hockey West Regionals at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild had an optional skate at St. Thomas Ice Arena with just a handful of skaters before departing for Buffalo.
The regional kicks off tomorrow with North Dakota taking on Western Michigan at 12:30 p.m., followed by the University of Minnesota skating against Boston University. If you’re like me, you’re rooting for a North Dakota vs. Minnesota rematch of that epic WCHA Final Five game.