An already injured and struggling team got another dose of bad news Tuesday.
The Thrashers will be without All-Star defenseman Tobias Enstrom for two to four weeks with a fractured finger on his right hand. He will not attend this weekend’s all-star activities in Raleigh due to the injury.
“Knowing him, it will probably be the shorter side of it,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. “It has to be done correctly. Our doctors want to do it – for the long-term health of him and our team – correctly.”
Enstrom suffered the injury during Saturday’s game against the New York Rangers. He missed Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay, snapping his franchise record consecutive games played streak at 296.
There was no immediate word on who the NHL would name as Enstrom’s replacement.
“Obviously Toby has been an incredibly important part of our team,” Ramsay said. “He’s been a big part of this organization. We are going to miss him. It is a great opportunity for other guys to step in and fill that spot. Guys get a better chance to play and more ice time.
“If you look at what happens to our team, nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We have to fight through injuries.”
The Thrashers host Washington Wednesday in their final game before the All-Star break. They have lost three straight games, seven of the past eight and 12 of the past 16 (4-8-4). Only one of their last four wins has come in regulation.
Captain Andrew Ladd is questionable to play against the Capitals with a lower-body injury. He also missed Sunday’s game against the Lightning. Evander Kane (mid-body), third on the team in scoring, will not play. Jim Slater (IR, concussion) and Chris Mason (IR, right knee) are also out. Fredrik Modin, who had missed previous seven games with a mid-body injury, was activated from injured reserve in time to play against the Lightning.
“It happens to everybody every year,” Thrashers defenseman Ron Hainsey said. “You get key guys go down with injuries. Look around the league, there are a lot of players down. It’s an opportunity for other guys to step up. It’s always that. Teams need other players to step up and be more involved offensively, defensively, play more minutes. It’s an opportunity for the young players we have here to take some of those minutes, for some older players too. When you lose a couple of your best players, it’s a challenge. It’s an also an opportunity for other players to step into those minutes and use them.”
The Thrashers have a one-point lead over Carolina for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes have two games in hand on the Thrashers.
“All of these injuries, while we are building something and moving forward, to miss the worse thing you can do is feel sorry for yourself,” Ramsay said. “Woe is me. Poor me. No other team thinks that right now. We have to fight through it. We have to be better as a group. We have to support each other. We’ve talked about team. We need to make that a reality. We have to fight. We have to battle. We have to win close games. We have to understand the responsibilities of being in a close game. If we do, there is no reason we won’t be successful.”
The Thrashers are 3-1-1 against the Capitals this season as they meet for the final time during the regular season. The Thrashers have already finished their season series with the Lightning. After five days off for the all-star break, the Thrashers return in February, a month that may well determine their playoff fate. The Thrashers play 13 of their next 16 games following the break against teams that currently have fewer points. The stretch of games includes two matchups with the Hurricanes.
The Thrashers have placed minor-league defenseman Mike Siklenka on waivers.