Just as things were beginning to look up, the Minnesota Wild now face a serious setback: Jason Zucker is done for the season, and Ryan Carter is out for at least a month.
Running out of Luck
Zucker, who is the second-leading goal-scorer for the Wild with 18 goals, suffered a season-ending injury Monday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Minnesota may have won that game, but they lost a key member of the team. Zucker suffered a broken clavicle after apparently being hit by Luca Sbisa.
I don’t have to tell Wild fans just how important Zucker has been this year; it’s obvious he’s been a huge part of this team and its comeback over the past couple of weeks. There’s just no way anybody will be able to replace his speed and agility. The Wild has some depth and this isn’t the end of the world, but it’s definitely a roadblock for this team. Not to mention, Zucker suffered this injury at just about the worst possible time – just as the Wild were climbing back into the playoff picture.
Minnesota also lost Ryan Carter Monday night to an “upper-body injury” and is expected to miss at least a month. Although he hasn’t been as integral as Zucker, Carter was the Wild’s grittiest player, leading the team in penalty minutes (53) and was third in hits (70). That’s going to hurt the Wild, who lack any toughness without Carter and Matt Cooke.
Brett Sutter and Stu Bickel were both called-up Tuesday to replace Zucker and Carter. Justin Fontaine has also rejoined the team, which is a positive.
On top of these injuries, the Wild has to deal with a loaded schedule for the rest of the month. This team plays a game every other day for the rest of the month and takes to the road for a Canadian road trip in the near future. I don’t want to be all negative, though. The Wild played well last night against the Winnipeg Jets, considering all that’s happened in the past day. Minnesota lost its win streak with a 1-2 loss in overtime to the Jets, but still managed to earn a point on the second night of a back-to-back. With all these odds stacked against them, that’s pretty good.
The Wild may have enough depth to keep it together and continue to push for a playoff spot, but that’s yet to be determined. As of last night, Minnesota sits in ninth place with 59 points. They have a chance to gain some ground over the next few weeks, so we’ll all just hope they can keep it together without Zucker and Carter.