LAS VEGAS (AP) — A day after a skate blade , Winnipeg Jets forward Morgan Barron was given Wednesday off.
“I would say that’s well-deserved, but we expect him to play (Thursday),” Jets coach Rick Bowness said.
The Jets will try to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round NHL playoffs series against the Golden Knights when the teams meet Thursday night in Las Vegas.
Barron didn’t even miss much of the series opener, getting cut by Vegas goalie Laurent Brossoit’s skate blade during a first-period scramble in front of the net. After going to the locker room, Barron returned a period later with more than 75 stitches and a full cage.
Which fits the mindset of an NHL locker room. Short of an arm following off, hockey players are expected to play, especially this time of year.
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Boston captain Zdeno Chara played the final three games of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final with a broken jaw after taking a puck to the face. Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron finished the final in 2013 with a broken rib, torn cartilage and a punctured lung.
In 2017, Pittsburgh’s Ian Cole played the last two rounds of the playoffs with a broken hand and broken ribs. Chicago’s Duncan Keith lost seven teeth during a game in the 2010 final and returned in the same game.
“I think it’s in a hockey player’s DNA,” said Colorado forward Alex Newhook, who has known Barron since they attended an Ontario prep school. “You just want to play. Regardless of what happens, if you’re able to get out there, most guys are getting back out there.”
Knights center Chandler Stephenson was part of the scrum when Barron got hurt and was the first to see blood. Stephenson then helped Barron get off the ice.
“Any time you take a skate to the face, you’re worried for the guy,” Stephenson said. “He got off and glad he’s OK. When it happened, I asked (a Jets player) if his eye was good. A cut is a cut, but if it’s to his eye, you never want to see that.”
Stephenson said the injury reminded him of when Knights teammate Alec Martinez was forced out of the lineup for 135 days after taking a skate to the face on Nov. 11, 2021. He needed more than 50 stitches.
Martinez, who took a maintenance day Wednesday and was not available for interviews, also played in the 2021 playoffs with a broken foot.
Then there is what Barron did Tuesday night.
“A scary situation,” Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey said. “Those things kind of ripple through the team. To have him come back was definitely a boost. He’s a character guy, a tough guy. That’s what the playoffs are all about — battling through injury.”
AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno and AP Sports Writer Pat Graham in Denver contributed to this report.
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