CHICAGO — Nikita Kucherov won’t play against Chicago after all. He watched the Blackhawks’ morning skate with a heating pad strapped to his back but was unable to get on the ice.
“We thought he’d be better when he got to the rink today, but he wasn’t,” coach Jon Cooper said.
This will be the first game the reigning Hart Trophy winner has missed due to injury in 995 days. He sat out two games in 2017 on Feb. 28 and March 1.
Kucherov left Tuesday’s loss to St. Louis in the second period after taking a big hit from Brayden Schenn. Just after getting rid of the puck, he turned into the contact, and was knocked on his back.
The injury is not to Kucherov’s head, which did not hit the ice. His body took the hit from 6-foot-1, 200-pound Schenn, then slammed into the ice on his back, nothing to break the fall.
Cooper couldn’t say if Kucherov would be good to play in Saturday’s game against Anaheim. The team is not scheduled to practice between games.
The team will miss him. Even while Kucherov is not producing the impressive numbers with which he finished last season, he provides a constant threat that opponents must address.