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The Coyotes’ road to the playoffs just got a little harder. Forward Conor Garland suffered a knee injury in Tuesday’s practice at Gila River Arena when he hit a hole or rut in the ice. Garland will not play in Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild and there is some internal concern that he will miss significant time, two sources said.
Garland had an MRI on Tuesday night and the Coyotes were expected to have a better sense of the plan and timeline after meeting with doctors just before Wednesday’s game.
This is the second straight season in which Garland has suffered a knee injury late in the season. With the Coyotes in the midst of another playoff race, Garland suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee in a game against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 6, 2020 when he clipped Flames goaltender Cam Talbot while chasing down a loose puck late in a 3-2 loss. He missed the team’s final game in Winnipeg before COVID-19 shut down the rest of the regular season, but he played in the Edmonton playoff bubble against Nashville and Colorado in August.
Garland is tied for second on the team with 32 points (10 goals) in 45 games, but he has not been as productive since rumors began swirling around him in advance of the NHL’s trade deadline. In 25 games since the start of March, Garland has three goals and 13 points.
Before Garland suffered the injury and left the ice on Tuesday, he was skating on a line with Lawson Crouse and Christian Dvorak. John Hayden replaced him on that line and with Garland out, Derick Brassard was back in the lineup on Wednesday.
“We’re going to count on some guys to really step it up,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “Gars is a good player for us. Tenacity on the ice, emotional on the bench. I like the juice that he (brings). He likes to chirp on the bench, talk to players. We’re a relatively quiet team but when he’s out it gets quieter so we need other guys to get out of character and talk more.
“He’s always around the net. He’s a pest around they net. It’s hard to find those guys.”
Garland is scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season.
With 10 games remaining in the regular season, Arizona leads the St. Louis Blues by one point in the race for the West Division’s final playoff spot, but the Blues have three games in hand.
Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter: @CraigSMorgan