Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter shrugged it off.
Defenceman Oliver Kylington, however, may not want to shrug for the next few days given the way he toppled into the boards in the third period of the Flames win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.
It was a scary few minutes as the speedy defender got tangled with Wild forward Ryan Hartman. Kylington spun around as they battled near the net, and his legs went skyward as he crashed heavily into the boards with his left arm, shoulder and head.
He was motionless on the ice and looked out of sorts as he gathered himself to get up. With some help, he made it to the locker-room. But he never looked very comfortable or confident and needed some help to get there.
“He’s fine. I mean, really, if you watch it, he really didn’t hit his head. It was more like shoulder, neck,” Sutter suggested in his post-game presser, alluding to the league’s safety measures for concussion as the main reason he was out.
“But you know, the whole protocol thing,” Sutter added with a bit of a shrug and a laugh.
In the moment, no one was laughing. It looked bad – especially the way he skated away.
It certainly shook up his teammates as action resumed. The Calgary Flames’ 5-1 lead was quickly cut to a two-goal gap. Rasmus Andersson admitted on Sportsnet 960 radio that their heads might have been somewhere else for a few minutes after the Kylington injury.
But early reports from Sutter and Kylington’s teammates suggested he was doing great after the game.
“That’s very scary. We don’t like that. He’s definitely a guy that’s been as important to our team,” said Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. “But he seemed fine in the locker-room.”
The collision didn’t seem malicious and Kylington’s speed took him into the boards after he lost his balance, but there were plenty of tough battles throughout the night. It set up what should be an entertaining rematch in St. Paul on Tuesday.
With the Calgary Flames already linked to defencemen on the NHL trade block, losing a top-four blueliner for any length of time would only increase that desire.
Kylington has been one of the team’s biggest surprises this season. He has settled in with Chris Tanev to form a formidable pairing. The 24-year-old has already obliterated career highs in games played (50), goals (6) and points (24).