Seeing teams lose a significant number of players to injury is problem enough throughout the season, but injury reports this close to the playoffs have even more of an impact on the teams that suffer through them.
For the Washington Capitals, the entire season has seen its fair share of missed games — but a slew of injuries right before the team is confirmed to see the post-season is just another stroke of bad luck.
Mike Green has been day-to-day with an upper body injury, although he’s hoping that a visit to the doctor on Thursday will bring good news — something the team desperately needs after their 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers. That game saw the team lose Jay Beagle, also with an upper body injury, although head coach Barry Trotz has assured fans that the injury won’t be holding him out of the lineup for long. That could hit the team harder than anything, since there’s still no confirmation that depth forward and tough-guy Michael Latta will be back in the lineup any time soon. He’s been out with an upper body injury of his own for the past few games, putting the Capitals down man after man as they fight to maintain the top Wild Card spot.
It’s affected the Capitals so much, in fact, that Nicklas Backstrom played against the Rangers while recovering from a stomach bug. Per Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post, Backstrom has been ill into the early morning prior to playing against the top-ranked Metropolitan Division team — and while the mumps are thankfully no longer a concern for every ill player who takes the ice, the Capitals noticeably struggled without the forward at full strength.
The Tampa Bay Lightning share the pain the Capitals have been enduring — the Atlantic Division franchise has reported that they’re down the services of both winger Ondrej Palat and newly acquired defenseman Braydon Coburn. Palat is out with a lower body injury — which he reportedly suffered during the team’s matchup against the Montreal Canadiens two days prior — and will likely miss two to three weeks as the team heads into the final stretch of the season. As for Coburn, who the Lightning picked up at the trade deadline from the Philadelphia Flyers as some blue line reinforcement, has a lower body injury and will be out for four to six weeks. The team is already missing young forward Cedric Paquette for a handful of days; although they seem to be staying healthy in goal for now (something that was the kiss of death for the franchise last season), the offensive depletion can’t be a good thing. They’re facing off against the Boston Bruins Thursday night, who are dealing with injuries of their own — but with more time to adjust to the necessary roster changes from a lack of David Krejci or Kevan Miller, the Bruins are starting to surge again.
The Lightning are unlikely to see themselves fall out of the post-season with the injuries they’re befalling, but the first round could see them eliminated by a dark horse if they can’t pull the team together.