Rangers forward Blake Wheeler leaves game with right leg injury

ESPN logo
Friday, February 16, 2024

Rangersforward Blake Wheeler injured his right leg midway through the first period of Thursday's 7-4 win over theMontreal Canadiensand had to be helped off the ice in New York.

New York later said Wheeler was ruled out for the rest of the game with a lower-body injury.

Coach Peter Laviolette said after the game that 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 backwards 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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.