The Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues are still battling for the last few wild card spots in the Western Conference, and today both announced injuries to defensemen. The Blues announced that Carl Gunnarsson will be out at least six months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL, while the Ducks will be without Cam Fowler for two to six weeks after suffering a shoulder injury. John Gibson also suffered an injury for the Ducks, but is considered day-to-day.
Fowler is obviously the bigger loss, as the Ducks rely on him for almost 25 minutes a night including time on both the powerplay and penalty kill. Though they have other strong defensemen, this means they’ll have to rely more on players like Francois Beauchemin or Marcus Pettersson, neither of which have shown the ability to contribute like Fowler this season. With Kevin Bieksa still out (and ineffective at times even when healthy) it’s unclear how the Ducks’ defense will shake out as they head towards the postseason. After losing players like Shea Theodore and Sami Vatanen over the last year, their depth isn’t as strong as it once was.
Gunarsson on the other hand doesn’t play nearly as much for the Blues, who have limited him to just over 16 minutes a night this season. Still, losing a player with his experience only thins out the depth of the team as they approach the postseason and makes them even more vulnerable to injuries in their top-4. The Blues though have to worry about the last few games of the season, as they sit a point back of Colorado for the final spot. Though they have a game in hand on the Avalanche, they’ll have to battle to scratch their way into the first round.