Evander Kane (Getty Images)
The Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers both absorbed major blows Thursday when key members Evander Kane and Dan Boyle went down to injury.
With more than a few players seriously injured in the NHL's 2014-15 preseason campaign, it should come as no surprise that pattern continued once the regular season began Wednesday. That's exactly what happened the following night, as two key players were sent to the sidelines with what look to be significant injuries that could alter the fortune of their respective employers.
The Jets lost star left winger Evander Kane to an unspecified lower body injury after a first period knee-on-knee collision with teammate Mark Scheifele in a road game against Arizona. Kane skated one more shift after the collision, but left the game after that and did not return. The 23-year-old is arguably Winnipeg's most talented player, and if the whispers are trueand the injury is serious, the Jets' already-long-odds of making the playoffs just got a lot longer.
Meanwhile, the New York Rangers – already without top center Derek Stepan for 4-6 weeks with a broken left fibula – got more bad news Thursday when marquee off-season acquisition Dan Boyle broke his hand, knocking him out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks. Boyle was blocking a shot late in the third period of the Blueshirts' game against St. Louis when the injury occurred:
The 38-year-old Boyle was signed in part to replace the departed Anton Stralman, and his absence will put significant pressure on new captain Ryan McDonagh, veteran Dan Girardi and goalie Henrik Lundqvist to pick up the slack.
It's hard to believe the regular season is a little more than 24 hours old and yet there's already some devastating realities starting to materialize for teams and their braintrust, but it's absolutely true.
There's always going to be risk to hockey, but when the pain starts this early, it's bound to sting a little more.