Mitch Marner's status uncertain after injury in Leafs' loss to CBJ
Leafs Mitch Marner, centre, on the bench after crashing into boards in game vs Blue Jackets Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017. (Sportsnet screengrab)
The playoff hopes of the Leafs won’t take a huge hit from a poor start and a 5-2 defeat to the Blue Jackets.
But if the cost of Wednesday’s game at the Nationwide Arena also includes a lengthy loss of Mitch Marner, that could be a different story.
An injury to the upper arm/shoulder area in the second period essentially shut down the Leafs rookie and the team’s leading scorer, leaving him in obvious and serious discomfort.
The injury was sustained when Marner was tripped up by rugged Columbus forward Boone Jenner, sending the Leafs forward crashing hard into the boards. Twice before the second intermission, Marner retired to the Leafs dressing room, though he returned for the third period.
After two shifts, Marner was shaking his head in obvious pain and frustration while favouring his right arm and soon after was shut down for the night. In total, he played just nine minutes and 56 seconds, the lowest of any Leafs player.
Following the game, Leafs coach Mike Babcock said he had no update on Marner’s condition, saying only, “I don’t know, we’ll figure that out later.”
Marner is expected to be evaluated by team doctors on Thursday - an off-day for the team. His status for a pair of weekend games at home to the Senators on Saturday and on the road in Carolina on Sunday isn’t likely to be known until the team returns to practice on Friday.
Obviously the loss of Marner would be huge for the Leafs' playoff aspirations. Playing most of the season on a line with veterans Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk, the 2015 first-round pick has had a sensational start to his NHL career.
His 48 points and 33 assists through 56 games leads the team and is tops among all NHL rookies. Marner leads Toronto and all NHL rookies in both points (48) and assists (33).
Following the injury, Leafs fans immediately feared the worst, understandably given Marner’s role in the team’s success this season. It’s possible, however, that with his team trailing 4-1 Babcock shut down Marner in the third to avoid aggravating whatever injury he sustained. Babcock was seen consulting with the training staff after Marner’s final shift of the game and soon after he walked down the Leafs tunnel yet again, done for the night.
If there’s good news, the dynamic rookie was spotted in the Leafs dressing room post-game moving in no obvious discomfort.
Marner’s wasn’t the only Leafs injury in the game against the Jackets. Forward Zach Hyman received a high stick to the face and returned to the dressing room for treatment.
Despite the loss, the Leafs still have a hold on the final Eastern Conference wildcard playoff spot with 63 points, two better than the Philadelphia Flyers, who lost in Calgary on Wednesday night.