Niklas Hjalmarsson leaves Blackhawks-Coyotes with upper-body injury

The defenseman played just five shifts on Thursday night.

The Chicago Blackhawks lost defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to an upper-body injury against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. The team announced at the beginning of the second period that he would not be available the remainder of the night.

Joel Quenneville said following the Blackhawks’ 6-3 win that Hjalmarsson would be evaluated on Friday. Presumably there will be an update on his status before the weekend.

It’s unclear what happened to cause the injury, but Hjalmarsson appeared to pull up lame during the end of his last shift of the game.

Hjalmarsson did not participate in the Blackhawks’ practice on Thursday morning. At the time, coach Joel Quenneville said that he was “fine” and ready to play against the Coyotes, but the team clearly wasn’t that confident in his ability to play all night because Michal Rozsival was made active as the seven defenseman.

Rozsival taking Vinnie Hinostroza’s spot in the lineup seemed bizarre at first, but it makes a lot more sense if they were hedging just in case Hjalmarsson wouldn’t be able to go all 60 minutes.

In the end, Hjalmarsson only played five shifts totaling roughly three minutes of ice time against the Coyotes. Hopefully whatever is ailing him won’t linger too long.