Trevor Daley (via NHL.com)
Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley was forced to leave Friday’s game with what appeared to be a left knee injury, and Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan confirmed the blueliner is dealing with a lower-body injury. Daley was seen on crutches post-game.
The Eastern Conference final is now tied after the Penguins dropped Game 4 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but worse than Pittsburgh's loss Friday is the impact an injury to Trevor Daley could have on this series going forward.
Late in the second period Friday, Daley was hit behind the Penguins’ net by Lightning winger Ryan Callahan. Though it seemed like an innocuous hit, the kind of which happens on a regular basis throughout the course of a game, the collision resulted in Daley going down in obvious pain before crawling to the front of the Pittsburgh net on all fours. When play finally stopped, Daley rolled onto his back in agony before being helped off the ice:
When Callahan’s body swung through the hit, he clipped Daley’s left foot which appeared to twist the Penguins’ defenseman’s left leg and possibly tweak his left knee. When Daley exited the ice he wasn’t able to put any weight on his left leg. He didn’t return to the game.
Pittsburgh was only down 2-0 at the time of Daley’s injury and the game was still well within reach when he was forced to exit. His absence would loom large, however. The Lightning added two goals shortly after Daley left — the first by Jonathan Drouin and the second by Tyler Johnson — which would power Tampa Bay to victory. Even when the Penguins were mounting their comeback in the third frame, Daley was unable to get back into the contest, and it appears the injury could be a serious one.
Multiple post-game reports stated Daley was seen leaving Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena on crutches, and given that he was unable to even put pressure on his left leg when exiting the ice, there’s cause to be concerned about the potential seriousness of his injury. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan couldn’t lessen those concerns following Game 4, either.
“I don't have any updates for you,” Sullivan said of Daley’s injury. “He obviously has a lower body injury. We'll have more updates tomorrow, but he's an important player on our team. So when we lose him for the rest of this game, he's a hard guy to replace. He plays a lot of minutes. He plays in key situations…(W)hen you lose someone like Trevor that plays important minutes for us, it just makes it that much tougher.”
Daley, 32, has been an important part of Pittsburgh’s blueline this post-season. Through 15 games, he has one goal and six points, but he’s averaging more than 22 minutes of ice time per game, which is the second-highest ice time among all Penguins players.