Rangers Forward Blake Wheeler Injures Right Leg Early In Game Against Canadiens

New York Rangers right wing Blake Wheeler is assisted off the ice in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
New York Rangers right wing Blake Wheeler is assisted off the ice in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Rangers forward Blake Wheeler injured his right leg midway through the first period Thursday night against Montreal and had to be helped off the ice.

He was ruled out for the rest of the game with a lower-body injury.

After his team's 7-4 victory over the Canadiens, coach Peter Laviolette said Wheeler would be evaluated further, with an update provided on Friday. The 37-year-old right wing signed a one-year contract with the Rangers as a free agent last summer after 12 seasons with Winnipeg.

“He’s a veteran player who came here for a reason,″ Laviolette said. “To see something like that happen, that’s tough.”

Wheeler was knocked down along the boards by Montreal defenseman Jayden Struble behind the Canadiens net at the 11-minute mark. Wheeler fell backward and his right leg bent at an unnatural angle.

He couldn't put any weight on the leg when he tried to get up and was assisted from the ice by teammates at the Zamboni entrance to the left of Canadiens goalie Sam Montembeault. A stretcher was waiting just inside the runway.

Wheeler has nine goals and 12 assists this season. He has appeared in all 54 of New York's games and had been playing on the top line with center Mika Zibanejad and left wing Chris Kreider. Wheeler has played 1,172 career games, starting as a rookie with Boston in 2008-09.

“You never want to see a teammate and a friend go down like that,″ Zibanejad said. “I obviously feel for him, not just on-ice impact but off ice as well."

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