The last pictures of Tim Stützle that could be seen in Helsinki on Monday evening were not really suitable for raising the spirits of the German national ice hockey team.
Actually, that wasn't even necessary, after a quarter of an hour it was 1-0 against outsiders France, the second win in the third game of this Ice Hockey World Championship seemed to be taking shape.
But then the working day of the most important German striker was already over.
First, Stützle remained lying after a duel, then he dragged himself bent over the ice and never came back.
So the colleagues had to do it themselves - what they managed, the Germans won 3:2, "even if it was difficult", as striker Marcel Noebels admitted.
How is the support?
Will the 20-year-old exceptional player from the Ottawa Senators play again at his first World Cup?
There was nothing definitive from the German Ice Hockey Federation (DEB) the day after either.
"It's looking pretty good, we're looking from day to day," said sports director Christian Künast of the dpa, further missions are "probable".
What was good news for national coach Toni Söderholm, who had to cope with enough failures from top strikers: Leon Draisaitl is in demand in the NHL play-offs, Dominik Kahun is injured, and Tobias Rieder and Champions League MVP Frederik Tiffels had also canceled .
That makes Stützle all the more important, whom captain Moritz Müller calls "one of our best players" and a failure "would of course be bitter".
Because whether Lukas Reichel - another 20-year-old top talent who earns his money in North America - will travel to Finland was also not clear on Tuesday.
Although the season in the second-class AHL ended for the "constant creativity factor" (Söderholm) on Sunday, it would have to go quickly now so that it's still worth it.
The same applies to defender Leon Gawanke, whose club season in Canada is also over.
The Germans could use him too.
Noebels and Pföderl on the spot
It was enough against France on Monday.
If things continue like this against Denmark on Thursday and against Italy on Friday (3.20 p.m. each), the quarter-finals are almost certain.
And once again it was Marcel Noebels and Leo Pföderl from Berlin who provided the decisive moment.
Because although the DEB team led twice through Daniel Fischbuch (3rd minute) and Alexander Ehl (18th) from Düsseldorf, it was 2-2 in the last third.
France seemed snappier, more agile, especially in the middle section.
Only in the last third did the Germans become stronger again.
And came to the winning goal: template Noebels, goal Pföderl.
A well-rehearsed duo that recently became champions for the second time in a row with the Eisbären.
After that there was a party, Pföderl did it exuberantly with plenty of beer, but without shoes, as Internet videos showed.
It was far too late for preparations for the World Cup.
The national coach was asked whether it would make sense to take them to Finland.
But he didn't even think about leaving the duo, who had played well in Latvia last year, at home, the championship title gives enough impetus.
Now that has been confirmed. Pföderl is the German top scorer with two goals and three assists.
And that shouldn't be the end.
Especially not if Reichel really follows.
He was still playing in Berlin last season and, with Noebels and Pföderl, formed the best offensive line in the league.
Söderholm can always use one of these.
It doesn't matter how Tim Stützle is doing.Keywords: