When you’re in a constant battle for tops in your division and you lose a few games in a short stretch, there’s really no reason for alarm.
When you’ve lost a few games in a row and your leading scorer goes down with a mysterious injury, however, concern starts to creep in.
The Nashville Predators announced today that All-Star winger Filip Forsberg has been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. His 15 goals, 19 assists (tied) and 34 points lead the team in each of those categories.
“While he’s out, we’ll miss him,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “But we need to move on without him.”
The team would provide no timetable for his return. The Ostervala, Sweden native hasn’t missed a regular season or playoff game since April 2014, a/k/a when Barry Trotz was behind the bench.
Pontus Aberg, Colton Sissons and Calle Jarnkrok could see an expanded role with Forsberg out. In addition, Milwaukee Admirals forward Frederick Gaudreau has been recalled to fill the available spot in the Nashville lineup. Which one — how many? — steps up to the plate remains to be seen.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Laviolette said. “That’s professional sports in general. It’s filled with injuries. You need to continually adjust and make changes and move guys up to give them opportunities.”
It’s not just younger guys looking to make the most of the bad situation. Mike Fisher’s off-season “replacement,” Nick Bonino, has spent some time on the fourth line recently and Scott Hartnell would like to impact the scoresheet a little more than he has so far.
“Coming off that injury was a bit of a setback for him and I think he’s trying to find his way back from that,” Laviolette said about Hartnell. “I think he knows, from my conversations with him, that’s he’s capable of more and that’s what we expect.”
Hartnell has seven points in 23 games this season.
UPDATE (January 3, 2018, 1:14pm): The Preds have issued a statement saying Forsberg will be out 4-6 weeks with the injury. Due to the team’s “bye week” and the All-Star Break coming up this month, Nashville only has eight games scheduled for the next 23 days. So, while you never want to be without one of your best players, given the circumstances, it actually comes at the most opportune time of the season.