There are just 22 games separating the New Jersey Devils from the NHL's regular season finish line, and just when they started to get set for the sprint, the Devils watched two players make an early exit in last night's 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Damien Brunner was the first to head to the locker room after suffering what the team is calling a lower-body injury just six minutes into Thursday's game.
With a man-advantage, Brunner was set to play the right point for the Devils in the first period. Prior to the face-off though Brunner glanced at his bench as if hesitating to even attempt to play out his shift. Shortly after, the Swiss forward made his way to the bench and did not return.
Tom Gulitti stated on his Fire and Ice blog that the latest damage on a daunting year for Brunner is just a charlie horse. Brunner was not available for comment following the game and head coach Pete DeBoer had no update on his player's condition.
The same goes for Devils captain Bryce Salvador, who struggled to get up after taking a puck to the chest by a slap shot from Blue Jackets' defenseman Jack Johnson.
While the Devils have a plethora of defenseman to choose from if the injury to Salvador keeps him sidelined, it will be another thing to see how general manager Lou Lamoriello handles any prolonged absence of Brunner if in fact the harm done in his second shift of the night proves to be more than a muscle spasm.
Considering the club's hesitation to insert former first-round draft picks in Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson into the Devils lineup, the trade deadline on March 5 could become more interesting for the organization than originally planned.
According to the Devils PR department, the Devils will practice at 2 p.m. this afternoon at Nassau Coliseum. The Devils will face the Islanders on Saturday before returning home to host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday afternoon.
Martin Brodeur start tomorrow in Long Island for the first time since a disappointing performance on Jan. 26 against the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium.