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Blackhawks’ Marcus Kruger out ‘week-to-week’ with upper body injury

Ottawa Senators v Chicago Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 20: Marcus Kruger #16 of the Chicago Blackhawks looks to pass against the Ottawa Senators at the United Center on December 20, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Senators defeated the Blackhawks 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Chicago Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger exited Friday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes with less than five minutes to play in the second period and did not return.

After the game, which the Blackhawks lost 3-2, coach Joel Quenneville announced that Kruger is “going to miss some time” and will probably be out on a week-to-week basis with an upper body injury.

The Blackhawks were already playing Friday’s game without forward Marian Hossa due to an upper body injury.

Kruger’s early exit forced them to play the remainder of their game in Carolina with only 11 forwards.

With only two goals and eight assists in 38 games this season (after scoring zero goals and recording just four assists in 41 games a year ago) Kruger obviously isn’t a player the Blackhawks rely on for offense. But they absolutely love his defensive game and lean on him more than any other forward on the team when it comes to killing penalties. They value his play away from the puck so much that they signed him to a three-year, $9 million contract extension that started this season.

Originally a fifth-round draft pick by the team in 2009, Kruger has played in 367 regular season games with the team over parts of seven seasons and been a member of their Stanley Cup winning teams in 2012-13 and 2014-15.