NHL injury roundup: Latest on Murray, Thornton, Krejci

NHL insider Chris Johnston joins Shawn McKenzie to get us set for Maple Leafs-Capitals game 1, where the status of 3 key Leafs players is still up in the air.

Health issues.

Every hockey team has them, and the opening night of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs brought a couple of surprise late scratches to star players.

Here is an up-to-date, painstaking roundup of all the key injuries affecting playoff teams, or at least the ones we know of, ranked (roughly) from the most concerning to the healthiest.

Be forewarned: These injury rankings are day-to-day, much like us all.

For two straight springs, the Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to begin the playoffs with the other guy in net.

Projected starter Matt Murray suffered a lower-body injury in warm-ups and was replaced by veteran Marc-Andre Fleury. Arguably the best backup in the NHL, Fleury secured a 31-save victory.

With no time frame for Murray’s return, Fleury will start Game 2 Friday. Tristan Jarry will back him up.

Superstar Evgeni Malkin, who had been nursing a shoulder injury since March 15, returned with a two-assist showing in Game 1’s victory over Columbus. Seams fine.

Chris Kunitz (lower body) is out long term.

Carl Hagelin has been out since March 12 with a lower-body injury, but coach Mike Sullivan says Hagelin is now day-to-day and there’s a “real chance” the winger returns at some point in the opening series. Hagelin skated with the extras Wednesday.

It will be difficult for the Penguins to reach the heights of 2016 with No. 1 defenceman Kris Letang undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck.

Lots of trouble here, particularly on the back end.

Defenceman Torey Krug is battling a lower-body injury and is expected to miss the entire Eastern quarter-final versus Ottawa. And young Brandon Carlo (upper body) exited the Bruins’ final game and has been ruled out for Game 1.

Centre David Krejci (upper body) was a surprise late scratch for Game 1, forcing the Bruins to adjust their top six.

Forwards Noel Acciari (upper body) and Jimmy Hayes (lower body) also did not play in Game 1.

Injuries prompted the B’s to sign 2016 14th-overall draft pick Charlie McAvoy Monday. He made his NHL debut Wednesday and logged the second-most ice time for the Bruins in the win over Ottawa.

Top centres Logan Couture (teeth) and Joe Thornton (knee) were both listed as day-to-day ahead of their Round 1 showdown with the Oilers.

Thornton missed the final three games of the regular season with an injured left knee, and Couture sat the final seven after taking a deflected puck to the face.

Couture wore a full cage in Game 1’s come-from-behind overtime victory in Edmonton.

Thornton, who has been practising with the extras, did not dress. He’s listed as day-to-day.

Deadline acquisition Patrick Eaves, who’s gelled nicely on Ryan Getzlaf’s top line, left Sunday night’s game with an upper-body injury but will be good enough to face the Flames in Game 1 Thursday.

Top-four defenceman and power-play threat Cam Fowler is out two to six weeks due to a knee injury that raised the ire of Anaheim GM Bob Murray, who called Flames captain Mark Giordano a dirty player.

Nick Ritchie (one game remaining on suspension), Clayton Stoner (abdomen), Ryan Garbutt (shoulder), and Simon Despres (concussion) are also unavailable to start the playoffs.

A steady presence on the Jackets’ blue line, Ryan Murray has been sidelined since March 12 with a broken hand. At that point he was given a timeline of four to six weeks.

Super rookie Zach Werenski recovered enough from his shoulder injury to make his playoff debut Wednesday.

Forward Lukas Sedlak (upper body) did not play Game 1.

The chief concern here is starting goalie Frederik Andersen, who exited Saturday’s playoff clincher with a knock to the head and underwent concussion protocol.

Andersen returned to practice Tuesday and has been confirmed to start Game 1 Thursday, according to coach Mike Babcock.

Defencemen Nikita Zaitsev and Roman Polak were both injured Saturdays as well. They did not skate Tuesday.

“Both guys are progressing,” Babcock said Tuesday. “We’re optimistic both guys will be ready, but I can’t guarantee anything.”

On Wednesday, Zaitsev was ruled out for Game 1 (but not Game 2… yet). He’ll be replaced by Martin Marincin.

Polak will play hurt because he’s Roman Polak.

“Usually he’s giving out pain; he’s not usually receiving it,” Babcock said. “Everybody is a little bit different and what affects them physically is different. Roman is one of those guys who isn’t affected by pain very much.”

The all-world Erik Karlsson sat out the final regular-season games with a stinger on his heel but registered an assist and skated more than 24 minutes in Game 1’s loss to Boston.

Observers of the morning skate noticed he looked less than 100 per cent healthy, however.

Forward Zack Smith is still recovering from an upper-body injury but will play as well.

Marc Methot, who had a finger nearly chopped off by Sidney Crosby, said Tuesday he’s putting the incident behind him. The top-four D-man is listed as day-to-day. He sat out Game 1 but is hopeful to play Game 2.

Reason for concern in Music City.

Captain Mike Fisher (lower body), Vernon Fiddler (upper body), Calle Jarnkrok (lower body), Yannick Weber (upper body), and Colin Wilson (lower body) have all missed time due to injuries.

Perhaps most unnerving is the health of top D-man Roman Josi, whose lower-body ailment may hinder his performance in the opening series.

Wilson (who has 18 points in his past 20 playoff games) and Jarnkrok did not practise Tuesday or Wednesday, putting their Game 1 availability in question. The others did, so count on them to play.

Robby Fabbri will miss the remainder of the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee back in early February.

Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) has missed five straight games; he skated Wednesday but did not dress for Game 1. Nail Yakupov hasn’t played since March 31.

It’s uncertain when Paul Stastny (broken foot) will be back in the lineup, so the return of Vladimir Sobotka from the KHL could not have come at a better time. Stastny was upgraded from week-to-week to day-to-day… more than a week ago.

Top defenceman John Carlson sat out the last four games of the regular season (including a 4-1 win in Toronto) with an undisclosed lower-body injury. The workhorse skated Tuesday and Wednesday at practice. Neither Carlson nor coach Barry Trotz would confirm he’d be active in Game 1 Thursday versus the Maple Leafs.

The Capitals sought out defensive depth at the deadline for this very reason, and Nate Schmidt has filled in capably in Carlson’s stead.

Forward Brett Connolly missed the last two games of the season due to an illness. He, too, skated Tuesday and should be good to play Game 1.

“We expect them to probably be a go, but we’ll see how they react after one practice here,” Trotz told reporters. “You’ll have to see on Thursday.”

Defencemen Shea Weber (lower body) and Jordie Benn (upper body) both sat out the end of the regular season but suited up for Game 1 of the Habs’ series versus New York. Elliotte Friedman notes in his latest “30 Thoughts” that Weber’s sitting may have more to do with rest than injury.

Blueliner Alexi Emelin (lower body) did not play Game 1 and has now missed three consecutive contests. His timeline for return is uncertain.

Andrew Desjardins (lower body, day to day) remains a question mark.

Michal Rozsival underwent surgery Tuesday to repair facial fractures. He is expected to make a full recovery but has no timeline for return.

Niklas Hjalmarsson was away attending the birth of his child but rejoined his team Tuesday and will skate in Game 1 Thursday.

The big news here is the return of Artem Anisimov, who’s been sidlelined since March 14 with a left leg injury. Anisimov recorded 22 goals and 45 points in 64 games.

“I don’t know if [there is any] doubt at all,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’s good to go.”

Chad Johnson, who has substituted admirably for Brian Elliott for long stretches this season, was held out of the last two games due to a leg injury.

The No. 2 goaltender will not wear the ballcap for Game 1 in Anaheim but is expected to fly with the team. Call-up Jon Gillies will handle backup duties in the meantime. Gilles won in his lone career NHL appearance, posting a .964 save percentage.

Defenceman Victor Bartley (triceps) has been on long-term injured reserve all season. He returned to practice Monday, but there’s no timetable for his return.

Contrary to their Round 1 opponent, San Jose, Edmonton is remarkably healthy.

A torn ACL ended depth centre Tyler Pitlick‘s season in December, but other than that, the Oil is all systems go.

All good here.

Versatile forward Jesper Fast, who put up 21 points this season, missed the last three games of the regular season with an undisclosed injury but played well in a Game 1 victory over Montreal.

Backup goalie Antti Raanta, who’s had a fantastic year (16 wins, four shutouts) in relief, is dealing with a minor knee injury but was able to back up Henrik Lundqvist.

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