As if the Winnipeg Jets needed any more concerns on the blue line, yet the team’s short-handed defense corps was dealt another blow on Tuesday. Head coach Paul Maurice announced that Dmitry Kulikov has suffered an upper-body injury that is expected to leave him sidelined for upwards of two months. Maurice expects the veteran defender to return after the All-Star break in late January. Kulikov suffered the injury, speculated to be related to his left arm, on Friday night and did not play Saturday. However, there was hope that he would return to the lineup shortly, but that will not be the case. Kulikov, 29, had been enjoying a bit of a career resurgence early this year after dealing with injuries in each of this past three seasons. The former Panthers standout is third among Jets starting defensemen in time on ice and first in Corsi For, while leading the entire team in blocked shots. Personally, Kulikov was also on pace for the highest point total of his stint in Winnipeg. However, it now appears that it could be more of the same for the physical, but fragile rearguard. With Nathan Beaulieu already injured and the team still coping with the absences of Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and Ben Chiarot, Kulikov’s loss is a major blow for the Jets. Winnipeg has held their own to this point in the season, but one has to wonder when their luck will run out considering their depleted blue line.
- The Chicago Blackhawks are another team dealing with a slew of injuries. So much so in fact that they were forced to ice only eleven forwards and six defensemen on Monday night after a roster full of short-term injuries and a sick goalie necessitated the call-up of AHL keeper Kevin Lankinen without enough room to make any other additions. While Robin Lehner is back on his feet, one of those other injured players is going to be out for a while longer. Blackhawks beat writer Carter Baum reports that top pair defenseman Duncan Keith is expected to miss at least another two games with a lingering groin injury. Keith will not travel with the team on their two-game road trip, extending what has already been a two-game absence. Groin injuries tend to stick around, so Keith could remain sidelined beyond the next two games and could also deal with the issue throughout the season. It’s a difficult situation for Chicago, who desperately needs their ice time leader and defensive mainstay to be active as much as possible if they wish to push for a playoff spot this season.
- Kyle Turris is back in the lineup for the Nashville Predators, but not because head coach Peter Laviolette has changed his mind about the under-performing veteran. Instead, Turris has drawn in to replace Mikael Granlund. The Predators announced just prior to their game on Tuesday night that Granlund would not be in the lineup and is considered day-to-day with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Not much is known about Granlund’s status as of yet, but an extended absence could very well cost him his spot as a top-six forward for the team. Granlund has just 11 points in 26 games, only two more points than Turris has in 19 games. Granlund has been a disappointment since coming over from Minnesota last season, but even if Nashville has no intention of re-signing him, the impending free agent has ample incentive to get healthy and try to find his way back to an elite level of play.