During normal playoffs, injury information is notoriously hard to come by. This year, secrecy has been taken to a new level. Social distancing protocols mean that no reporters are allowed to attend practices or game-day skates to grasp who’s hurt and how severe an ailment might be. Privacy concerns surrounding the disclosure of confirmed coronavirus cases led the league to mandate a blanket classification of “unfit to play” that makes the old days of “upper-body” and “lower-body” injury reports seem quaintly detailed.
While the enclosed environments in Toronto and Edmonton have remained coronavirus-free since teams arrived on July 26, on-ice injuries have had an impact on some series. The Winnipeg Jets lost their top-line center, Mark Scheifele, and a key scorer, Patrik Laine, early in their play-in matchup against the Calgary Flames, and eventually lost in four games.
The Vancouver Canucks survived a hard-hitting, four-game play-in series against the Minnesota Wild that included two fights, 140 penalty minutes and injuries to Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli, Micheal Ferland and Adam Gaudette, as well as to Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter.
Though the Canucks and the Wild were housed in close quarters at the Sutton Place Hotel in Edmonton, they said they had not taken advantage of the proximity to glean injury information about their opponents.
“It’s rare that you run into people with Minnesota masks and shirts on,” Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom said. “You just keep to yourself and keep to your own teammates.”
“Maybe I should run into them at the elevator a little bit harder,” said Minnesota’s Marcus Foligno, who dropped the gloves with Ferland just 1:19 into Game 1 of their play-in series.
“There’s only one way out and one way into our hotel, and everybody has pretty much the same time on game day to be at the rink,” Foligno said before his team’s elimination. “You’ve got to put your head down and keep walking, and bring it to the ice.”
Curtis Rush reported from Toronto, and Carol Schram from Edmonton, Alberta.