Capitals

Leafs lose key defenseman for the rest of the playoffs

Capitals

Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak will miss the remainder of the playoffs after suffering a gruesome looking injury Saturday night.

Polak was hurt when he was hit hard by Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik in the second period of Game 2. Polak's right foot got twisted around as he crumpled to the ice and the 30-year-old had to be helped off the ice.

The injury left Toronto with five defenseman for the balance of the game, which ended with Leafs prevailing 4-3 in double overtime. As a result, blue liners Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner ended up skating 40-plus minutes.

RELATED: 3 key takeaways from Game 2: Time to focus on if, not when

Toronto Coach Mike Babcock said he did not have a problem with Orpik’s hit.

“Orpik is a good man,” Babcock said. “He plays hard. He didn’t mean to hurt anybody. It’s just unfortunate for Pol.”

With Polak out, the Leafs are hoping that Nikita Zaitsev, who sustained an apparent concussion in the regular season finale, can return for Game 3 on Monday. Zaitsev missed the first two games of the series but has resumed skating and is expected to do so again on Sunday.

“If [Zaitsev] is ready to go, he’ll get the opportunity,” Babcock said.

If Zaitsev is unable to suit up, though, Babcock said he’ll turn to Alexey Marchenko, who played 41 games during the regular season for the Red Wings and Leafs.

 

Polak, meantime, averaged about 18 minutes per game during the regular season and led all Leafs defensemen in hits.

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