No 'woe is me' from Gaudreau, Stamkos, Hall replacements
Flames, Lightning, Devils look for more production from supporting cast
An injury to one player creates an opportunity for another.
That scenario was front and centre Wednesday after news broke of Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau and fellow forwards Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay), Taylor Hall (New Jersey) and Darren Helm (Detroit) being lost to their teams for the long term.
The 23-year-old Gaudreau had just snapped out of an early-season funk with three goals and four points in a four-game span and sits second to Michael Frolik (12 points) in Flames' scoring with 11 points. Frolik's overtime goal Wednesday night lifted Calgary to a 2-1 win over Arizona.
"We have to find a way to get points and get wins," Calgary general manager Brad Treliving told reporters before his players improved their season record to 7-10-1. "You're not going to have someone come in and replace Johnny. That doesn't happen. What you can do is get a little bit more from everybody else.
"The test here is not sitting down and saying, 'Woe is me.'"
Below is a breakdown of each aforementioned players' injury and who might be asked to step up in their absence.
- Injury: Broken finger
- Expected length of absence: 4-6 weeks
- Role: Flames' No. 1 left-winger
- Expected fill-ins: Sam Bennett and/or Matthew Tkachuk
The rookie Tkachuk made it 1-1 on Wednesday with his fourth goal of the season early in the third period ahead of Michael Frolik's overtime winner. The 18-year-old son of ex-NHLer Keith Tkachuk is 11th in rookie scoring with seven points in 14 games.
Bennett, who has struggled early in his second NHL season, skated alongside top centre Sean Monahan and right-winger Troy Brouwer on Wednesday. He has three goals and seven points in 18 games after a 18 goals and 36 points as a rookie.
- Injury: Torn lateral meniscus in right knee
- Expected length of absence: Reportedly a minimum 4 months
- Role: Lightning's No. 1 right-winger
- Expected fill-ins: Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/tblightning?src=hash">#tblightning</a> Cooper; "Now, everyone has to pitch in. Yes, we are going to miss him dearly but our season’s over by no means."—@TBTimes_JSmith
Johnson could centre the top line with Lightning leading scorer Nikita Kucherov (21 points in 16 games) and Jonathan Drouin, who was expected to be in the starting lineup Thursday at Buffalo after missing seven games with an upper-body injury. Or, head coach Jon Cooper could reunite "The Triplets" with Ondrej Palat skating alongside Johnson and Kucherov, with Vladislav Namestnikov on the second unit with Brayden Point and Drouin.
- Injury: Surgically repaired torn meniscus in left knee
- Expected length of absence: 3-4 weeks
- Role: Devils' No. 1 left-winger
- Expected fill-in: Beau Bennett
Bennett 24, moves up from his spot on the second line with centre Adam Henrique and Kyle Palmieri. The six-foot-one forward had a two-goal game in the pre-season and skated on the Devils' top line for a stretch but has yet to score in 14 regular-season contests. He does have four assists while averaging 13 minutes of ice time. New Jersey GM Ray Shero sent the team's third-round pick (77th overall) at the 2016 NHL draft to Pittsburgh for Bennett, whom he drafted when he served as GM for the Penguins.
- Injury: Dislocated left shoulder
- Expected length of absence: Minimum 6 weeks
- Role: Red Wings' No. 3 centre
- Expected fill-in: Riley Sheahan
The 29-year-old Helm, who won't need surgery, was plagued by injury from the spring of 2012 through the 2013-14 season but had played at least 75 games in each of the previous two campaigns. He is sixth in Red Wings' scoring this season with seven points in 17 games with a team-best plus-6 rating.
This could be a good opportunity for the 24-year-old Sheahan to bust out of a season-long slump. He hasn't scored in 17 starts (three assists) and is a team-worst minus-9. The St. Catharines, Ont., native scored 14 goals and 25 points in 81 games last season.