The Ottawa Senators were dealt a major blow Wednesday after news broke that Brady Tkachuk tore a leg ligament. He is expected to miss at least a month.
The young rookie star has been shining brightly for the Senators in the four games he has dressed. Tkachuk has amassed six points (3G, 3A), 14 shots on goal, 13 hits, and four penalty minutes, while having an influence on the team’s spirit and overall chemistry. Since his NHL debut, Ottawa is 2-1-0 and has played some of their most complete hockey in games against the Los Angeles Kings and the Dallas Stars. It would be an understatement to say the Senators will miss Tkachuk’s contributions for the next month.
At the start of this season, Tkachuk’s debut was delayed by two games due to a nagging groin strain. However, Tkachuk’s most recent injury occurred against the Dallas Stars, when he went into the boards awkwardly in the first period after finishing his check on Blake Comeau. Tkachuk was in visible pain as he skated to the bench without hesitation, careful to avoid applying weight to his injured leg. Upon arriving to the bench, he received immediate attention from the team’s medical trainers.
Despite this incident, Tkachuk stayed in the game. As it progressed, few spectators would have identified this as a major event. Tkachuk seemed unaffected as he would score the game-winning goal early in the third period. He also finished the game with five shots on goal and four hits throughout the game. Nearly 48 hours after the final horn sounded, news of the injury broke.
The list of injured Senators is already surprisingly long only six games into the new season. Tkachuk joins his teammates Cody Ceci, Alex Formenton, Marian Gaborik, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Max McCormick on the sidelines. This Saturday, the Senators welcome back Ryan Dzingel to their line-up. He returns just in time for the match-up against their Atlantic Division rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Dzingel should be a productive boost to the Senators line-up, having managed four points in four games this season. Ottawa also recalled forward Nick Paul from their AHL affiliate, the Belleville Senators. In two games with Belleville, Paul has produced 3 points (1G, 2A).
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The upcoming schedule for the Senators is no cakewalk. It will also give fans a good sense of how competitive Ottawa will be this season. The team has 13 games over the next month, including eight matches against divisional rivals; a western road trip; both season games versus the Vegas Golden Knights; a Florida state road trip; and a three game home stand. Notably, the Senators verse the Colorado Avalanche on their western road trip in Denver on October 26. Colorado holds Ottawa’s 2019 first-round pick, and it is in the Senators best interest to play their best hockey this season to devalue that pick as much as possible. Devaluing this pick will reduce the chances of Colorado using it to select Jack Hughes this spring.
After a surprisingly strong start to this young NHL season, it seems adversity has once again caught up with the Senators. Only time will tell how well they manage this next month without Tkachuk.
Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.