Thursday afternoon represented a rough loss for the Chicago Blackhawks, when you consider the way in which they lost the 2015 Bridgestone Winter Classic to the Washington Capitals. Several missed power play opportunities, including a 5-on-3 in the second period and a bogus hooking call on Jonathan Toews that led to the game-winning goal in the final seconds will, at least at this point, be what this game is remembered for, from a Chicago perspective.
However, while the inability to grab two points against a pretty mediocre Washington team is an obviously negative element of the loss, a more serious loss may have come from a personnel standpoint. Kris Versteeg left the game early in the third period, after blocking a shot off the stick of Capitals forward Eric Fehr. He did not return and Joel Quenneville said after the game that he could be "out for a bit" with the injury.
The injury in question is seen here, courtesy of NBC's Pro Hockey Talk:
When attempting to decipher exactly what Joel Quenneville is saying, "out for a bit", or any variation thereof, typically seems to represent an extended absence from the lineup. It's the same time of lingo that Coach Q used to describe Patrick Sharp when he missed his stretch with an upper body injury.
The positive thing here is that while it's extremely unfortunate that Kris Versteeg is going to miss time with an injury, especially with the season he's putting together, this is a situation that could be a whole lot worse. With his recent history of knee injuries, including recovery from surgery that limited him greatly and led to his benching last year, a broken finger isn't something that should inhibit him from returning to this form in the long-term. He should be able to return to the lineup and slot back in nicely without that readjustment period that a lower body injury might require.
Prior to going down with the injury, Versteeg was third on the Blackhawks in points, with 27 in 33 games on the year. He was experiencing quite a revival after a quiet second half and atrocious playoff performance led to him serving as a healthy scratch and much of the Blackhawks' fanbase calling for his departure from Chicago.
Regardless of the time missed and severity of the injury, Versteeg's absence from the lineup for any period of time is going to sting for the Hawks. He's re-established himself as a key presence in the lineup and a top source of secondary offense. He's formed an offensively dominant second line with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane. Obviously the hope here is that time missed is minimal and that he can jump right back into the mix when he returns and continue his impressive campaign as we head into the 2015 portion of the schedule.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.