While the NHL seems to be getting younger and faster everyday, it is the veterans who have lead the way so far in the playoffs.
USA TODAY Sports
The Nashville Predators lost more than just a game Thursday night against the Anaheim Ducks.
Ryan Johansen, their No. 1 center, injured his left thigh and needed emergency surgery, the team announced Friday. Johansen will need 2-3 months to recover and will miss the rest of the playoffs.
Nashville and the Ducks are tied 2-2 as the Western Conference final shifts to Anaheim for Satuday’s Game 5.
Johansen had been a major force in the postseason, recording three goals and 13 points in 14 games. Most importantly, he had neutralized the Ducks’ top two centers, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, to the point it didn’t matter which one he was matched up against.
Getzlaf has three assists — all in Game 2 — in the series, along with a plus-one rating and eight shots on goal. Kesler has one assist and 12 shots on goal, five of which came in Game 4. Kesler has a minus-one rating in the conference final.
Johansen played 27:28, tops among Predators forwards, in the Game 4 overtime loss.
Nashville had leaned on Johansen because it doesn’t possess any other natural top-six center options. Johansen had 61 points during the regular season, but the depth behind him is weak.
Center options include Mike Fisher (42 points in 72 regular-season games), Calle Jarnkrok (31 points in 81 games), Colton Sissons (10 points in 58 games) and Vernon Fiddler (four points in 59 games). Fisher left Thursday’s game with an injury in the third period, and the team has provided no update on his status.