It could have been a lot worse.
The Winnipeg Jets had to be breathing a sight of relief Thursday as news emerged that Patrik Laine had, in fact, not broken anything after blocking a shot against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
The 19-year-old was injured with just nine games to go in the regular season, but bench boss Paul Maurice confirmed that there was indeed nothing broken when he spoke to the media Thursday.
“We don’t know how quickly these things drain. It’s not really about pain tolerance,” Maurice said. “The way we’re going right now, we don’t want him hobbling around the ice. As soon as he can put his foot back in the boot and skate, he’ll be back playing.”
Word around the campfire is that Laine will be out for a window of anywhere between four and 14 days, which means he’ll be available for the playoffs and all will be well in Winnipeg.
“It’s a huge relief,” said Bryan Little. “He’s such a big part of our team and of our offence. Just the power play alone, that leaves a big hole. He’s been playing really well lately, not just scoring goals but doing everything well. The way he got hurt, he’s blocking a shot for the team. It’s tough to lose a guy, especially when he’s playing like that.”
Laine is, of course, playing some amazing hockey. He has 43 goals and was intending on leaping to the top of the NHL goal-scoring lead, but it doesn’t look like that’s in the cards anymore.
Alex Ovechkin has 44 goals as of now, for the record.
But in terms of the big picture, it could have been a lot worse.
Laine could’ve been out for a lot longer after blocking that shot.
And that raises the question of whether certain players, say goal-scoring superstars, should be throwing themselves in front of blazing rubber in the first place. After all, the NHL’s netminders have never been more equipped to make saves.
Laine made the right play, though. Right?
“No. He should have been skating a lot faster toward the shot,” Maurice said. “Run to the fire, is the rule. Because it hurts a whole heck of a lot more if you’re 30 feet off it.”
Laine will certainly miss Sunday’s game against the Nashville Predators, Winnipeg’s divisional rivals, but he may be ready to go sooner rather than later. But with the Jets eight points ahead of the Wild, there’s no reason to rush.