When the New York Islanders recalled goalie Christopher Gibson earlier today and Robin Lehner was not present at morning skate, there was understandable injury concern about the keeper. Newsday’s Andrew Gross reports that Lehner is in fact sidelined with injury, but not headed to the injured reserve. Gross spoke with Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, who would only confirm that Lehner has a “tweak” of some kind and is unavailable. Trotz did add that the injury is unrelated to Lehner’s chronic back spasms and instead a separate minor injury that occurred recently. Gross writes that the team is content to carry three goalies for now in hopes that Lehner is ready to return sooner rather than later. The free agent addition was expected to push for the starter’s role for New York, but instead has been outplayed by incumbent Thomas Greiss, who is off to a hot start. This injury is another setback to Lehner’s pursuit of the starting job, but he could returned refreshed and ready to contribute more to the tandem. Lehner has posted a .913 save percentage and 2.79 GAA this year compared to Greiss’ .926 save percentage and 2.42 GAA in four more appearances.
- The Islanders’ competition tonight, the Winnipeg Jets, made a last-minute change to their lineup, subbing out workhorse defenseman Josh Morrissey. Morrissey was reportedly unable to suit up due to a lower-body injury, which is something to look out for moving forward. Morrissey leads all Jets skaters in total ice time this season, averaging close to 23 minute per night in all 26 games. In fact, tonight’s absence is Morrissey’s first due to injury in his entire three-year NHL career. Morrissey missed one late-regular season contest last year, rested before the playoffs, and missed one postseason game due to a suspension, but otherwise has been in the lineup for 205 of Winnipeg’s past 207 games. The team relies heavily on Morrissey’s dependable presence on the back end and any long-term absence for the two-way defenseman would be a major loss for the team.
- On the other end of the spectrum is Dallas Stars forward Martin Hanzal. Since signing with the team in the 2017 off-season, Hanzal has missed 72 of a possible 110 games and counting with a serious back injury that required spinal fusion surgery. Some felt that Hanzal may never play the game again, but the team and player have been optimistic throughout the recovery process. Now, The Dallas News’ Matthew DeFranks reports that a comeback is imminent. Hanzal has been practicing with the team for some time, but there had been no word on whether he would be given the go-ahead for game action. Head coach Jim Montgomery told DeFranks that the status quo has changed, as Hanzal has been cleared to play and could return as early as Friday, when the Stars take on the San Jose Sharks. Dallas has some roster management to do with Hanzal and his $4.75MM cap hit coming back, but he will be a welcome addition to the lineup if truly back at full strength. A hulking two-way power forward, Hanzal has consistently produced in the 30-40 point range throughout his career and would be a major boost in all areas of the game for the Stars.