The Arizona Coyotes received yet another blow to add to their growing list of injuries when it was announced by GM John Chayka that starting goalie Antti Raanta may be lost for the season.
He underwent surgery for his nagging lower-body injury causing his absence for the rest of the season.
The injury list is mounting
When you look at this list of injuries causing players to go on the injured reserve, it becomes apparent that the team is not able to play their best players due to excessive injuries.
1) Christian Dvorak (9-20-18) lost for the season due to surgery needed for a pectoral injury.
2) Jason Demers (11-16-18) lost for the season with a knee injury.
3) Darcy Kuemper (11-25-18) has been on the injured reserve with a lower-body injury and his return is expected against the Boston Bruins.
4) Antti Raanta (11-28-18) lower body injury needing surgery which could keep him out for the remainder of the season.
5) Michael Grabner (12-01-18) sustained a nasty eye injury from a stick to his eye area. His return is undetermined at this time.
6) Vinnie Hinostroza (12-7-18) lower body injury and has been placed on the injured reserve list and his return is yet to be determined.
7) Jakob Chychrun (10-4-18) Missed 18 games at the start of the season from his second major knee surgery.
Every NHL team must get through injuries every season, but this amounts to losing three forwards, two goalies, and two defensemen.
An ENTIRE starting unit!
On the bright side
Head coach Rick Tocchet was attempting to look at the bright side of things when asked about the goalie situation.
His comment was that this is an opportunity for Kuemper to show if he can be a number one goalie in this league.
There haven't been too many times where a team loses BOTH their starting and backup goalies within three days of each other. This did give AHL goalie Adin Hill an opportunity to take over the reins in net and he has performed well with a 4-2 record, and a .939 save percentage with a stellar 1.62 goals against average.
It still is Kuemper who can use this opportunity to fill in for the absent Raanta and see what he's got as a starter.
Some rookies get the call
With the forward lines lacking enough players, the Coyotes called upon their AHL Tucson Roadrunners to fill the gap.
They called up forwards Michael Bunting (6-G, 12-A), Conor Garland (8-G, 11-A) to fortify the troops.
This may give these inexperienced players some NHL playing time, but when you miss your starters like Grabner and Hinostroza it's just not the same.
The injuries couldn't have come at a worse time (is there a good time?) in that the team is embarking on a four-game road trip after losing their last two home games.
They must play the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, and Carolina Hurricanes before they literally limp back home for a three-game homestand against the New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, and Colorado Avalanche.
Losing three starters still hurts
With Dvorak, Demers, and Raanta all being lost long-term the team must find a way... any way to go on without them in hopes that they may return before the end of the season.
If they continue their downward trend with injuries playing a factor, will GM Chayka seek replacement players or continue to call up AHL level players to fill the bill?
It's got to be a tough choice, and certainly some rotten luck with all the injuries it's not easy to take as a fan of the team.
Losing Raanta and Demers may really deflate the defense which is still the best in the NHL at this point. Hill may be able to fill the need as a backup to Kuemper, and certainly, if Hill is playing better than Kuemper he should get the nod.
What's the secrecy on the injury details?
One thing is certain Head Athletic Trainer Dave Zenobi is earning his pay with all the injured players this season.
And, what is up with the excessive lower-body injuries? It may be time for the team to invest in ways to prevent lower-body injuries. Of course, without telling the public what exactly includes such an injury would be good information to have.
All we heard on Raanta's injury was this from Chayka:
"The good news is that it was a great repair and his long-term health is in great standing," Chayka told the Coyotes website. "The recovery will be a little longer than we had hoped or expected, but at the same time, again, he has the ability to preserve his long-term health. That's the main thing, and we've been able to do that.
Repair of what, John? Could you be more specific? Groin? What?
I get that teams don't want to divulge the exact injuries to players for strategic reasons, but Raanta is lost for the season.
Why not tell us what happened?
So far, Raanta has only appeared in 47 games last season and 12 this season (if he doesn't play the rest of the season) which amounts to just 36 percent of the games the team will play in the two seasons.
This after he signed a three-year $12.75 million contract.
Will all these injuries cause the team to falter?
Then again, if the players filling in step up and do the job they may survive it all, but it doesn't look good for a team when they can't stay healthy.
Is it conditioning?
Are players coming into camp out of shape?
Something is causing this string of injuries, and the Arizona Coyotes need to figure it out.
Otherwise, all the optimism about them finally qualifying for the playoffs will be lost.
Injuries do that... they really do.
Will the Arizona Coyotes' excessive injuries be the downfall for this season and eliminate them from playoff contention again? Let us know in the comments section below.