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Blackhawks’ Connor Murphy out ‘couple weeks’ with groin injury

The defenseman left Tuesday’s game and did not play in the third period.

Winnipeg Jets v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Connor Murphy will be out a “couple weeks” with a lower-body/groin injury, Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said Tuesday night.

Murphy left the Blackhawks’ 2-1 shootout loss against the Golden Knights and did not play in the third period. The 26-year-old defenseman missed the latter part of the preseason with a groin injury and the Blackhawks’ regular-season opener in Prague.

He has nine shots, blocked seven shots from the opposition and a 55.25 Corsi-For rating in six games this season. He’s been moved up to the top pairing with Duncan Keith and settled into that role.

“Obviously, that’s a blow for us,” Colliton said. “It’s an opportunity for other guys. We think we need to continue to build depth. That’s what we’re going to need. We can’t just play with six D or seven D all year. You’re going to need more than that. That’ll be an opportunity for other guys to grow.”

The Blackhawks have seven games in the next two weeks, including three in the next five days. Chicago could turn to Slater Koekkoek, who can play on either the left or right side and has been a healthy scratch of late, to replace Murphy or call up a defenseman from the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL.

The IceHogs have three defenseman, all left handers, with NHL experience: Dennis Gilbert, Philip Holm and Ian McCoshen, who was acquired from the Panthers in exchange for winger Aleksi Saarela. McCoshen has the most experience among the group with seven points (four goals, three assists) in 60 regular-season NHL games.

Holm, who has been the IceHogs most consistent defenseman this season, has shown some offensive skill with two goals and three points in five games. He skated in one NHL game with the Canucks during the 2017-18 season. If Holm or McCoshen were called up, they would have to clear waivers to be re-assigned to the AHL.

Holm’s main defensive partner, Adam Boqvist, might also be an option. Boqvist, a right-handed shot and the eighth overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft, has yet to record a point in three AHL games during his rookie season. He missed the IceHogs’ last two games with a facial injury after taking a puck to the face, but has been cleared to play this coming weekend. Boqvist is a slide candidate, meaning if he plays less than 10 NHL games this season his entry-level contract won’t start until the 2020-21 campaign.