Apparently none of the Western Conference Wild Card hopefuls are allowed to have nice things.
The Stars’ Kari Lehtonen missed 10 days after a collision with Erik Haula on March 8th and, coincidentally or not, that led to a Dallas losing skid. The Wild, of course, are on goalies three and four, having to go shopping in the minors and Edmonton to find relief for Harding and Backstrom.
On Tuesday night, Phoenix’s Mike Smith went down with an injury after the Rangers’ Derek Brassard was shoved into him. Video here:
No idea how severe the injury is, but one thing is for sure, the Coyotes are not equipped to handle Smith’s absence. He has started 61 games this year for Phoenix, and while Dallas traded for Tim Thomas, and the Wild have a veteran to turn to in Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix must rely on relatively unknown and certainly untested Thomas Greiss, starting tonight in Pittsburgh.
Greiss is a career backup, spending three partial seasons in San Jose before moving to Phoenix last year. His numbers this season are good, a save percentage of .924 and a goals against of 2.38, but he just hasn’t played enough to feel like a comfortable option. He’ll get his chance to prove himself now, as the Coyotes wait on the severity of Smith’s injury.
Adding the insult, the Coyotes blew a 2-0 lead to the Rangers and lost in overtime, 4-3, dropping a point to Dallas, who beat Winnipeg on Monday night. Dallas is now just one point back of Phoenix, with a game in hand. The Wild are five ahead of Phoenix, six ahead of Dallas.