Washington’s Tom Poti is still recovering from a groin injury that has bothered him for about a month. He is taking his time with his recovery to ensure that the groin issues do not continue to bother him throughout the season. Poti has returned to practice, so he should be able to get back on the ice for Capitals relatively soon.
Tampa Bay’s Steve Downie is trying to recover from a back injury that has plagued him in the past. The back is tricky to mend because spinal strength and stability are not dependent on just one muscle or one group of muscles. These functions rely on the back muscles, abdominals, diaphragm, pelvic muscles, and even the hips. However, it appears Downie is ready to go again – he returned to the ice Tuesday.
New Jersey’s Brian Rolston may be back earlier that expected. He underwent sports hernia surgery in mid-October, and though he was expected to miss about 4-to-6 weeks, he has already resumed skating and has practiced the last three days. This is a positive sign because it means that Rolston’s abdominal region is strong enough to contract during the rigors of skating. He could return by the end of the week if all goes well over the next couple days.
Ottawa’s Milan Michalek has been dealing with tendonitis in his surgically-repaired knee for a week or so, but he felt good enough to return to the ice Tuesday after missing four games. Hopefully the knee does not continue to give him problems throughout the season.
Another team hoping for a quick return is Detroit. Chris Osgood has been recovering from a groin injury, which is probably the most difficult injury for goalies to recover from. Most of the rehab focuses on hip strength and core stability, which increases the chances of re-injury. For a top goalie like Osgood, it is more important to take a little longer and get back to 100 percent so that the injury does not creep up again down the road and cost him valuable games in the season’s later months. Osgood has not practiced yet, but he could resume doing so next week. The Red Wings will not take any chances with Osgood; so do not expect to see him back on the ice for at least a couple more weeks.
Colorado’s Craig Anderson injured his knee in October, but fortunately he did not need surgery. Anderson has been in rehab mode since, and it appears he could return in the next couple weeks. Since the knee is a “simple joint,” rehab requires monitoring all the leg muscles to ensure there are no weak points. It sounds like Anderson is doing well, so hopefully he is able to get back to practice soon.
While Anderson is getting close, St. Louis’ Roman Polak is far from being back. As I suspected, surgery was required to repair a severed tendon in his wrist. Rehab after any hand/wrist surgery is rather delicate because the tendons are small, so the early part of the process is oriented towards tissue healing. There will be little Polak can do until he is given clearance to start moving his hand. Once he is given that clearance, the first goal of rehab is tendon mobility/gliding. If an adhesion causes the tendon to glide improperly, normal functions can take longer to return. This is especially important because of the dexterity required in handling the hockey stick. I would expect the surgery to cost Polak 8-to-10 weeks, but exactly how long he will be out will depend on how well his recovery and rehab go.
Minnesota’s Antti Miettinen missed five games with a concussion, but he was able to practice Monday and could return for Wild’s upcoming game on Wednesday. Miettinen is considered a game-time decision for that contest.
Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers skated Thursday for the first time since separating his shoulder in October. Rehab for a separated shoulder requires special attention to motor planning because the muscles need to be re-trained properly to prevent further injury. A separation prevent the shoulder from moving normally due to the significant pain it experiences during the injury process, so a lot has to be done to overcome the damage. Still, though Gaborik did not play Tuesday, there is a chance he could return later this week.
Lastly, the Maple Leafs are dealing with a couple injuries. Dion Phaneuf will be out 4-to-6 weeks after undergoing surgery for a laceration to his leg. The timeline indicates that no serious damage occurred and all Phaneuf has to do is wait for the tissue to heal. This is excellent news for Toronto.
Secondly, Colby Armstrong is working his way back from surgery to repair an injured tendon in his left hand. Armstrong was expected to miss about 4-to-6 weeks, and since the surgery was just two weeks ago, he will likely miss a few more weeks. Armstrong is also dealing with a small fracture in his right foot, so hopefully that injury does not cost him any additional time beyond the original prognosis. It should not take him long to get back in game shape once his injuries have healed since neither will require a lengthy rehab process.
Good luck to all with their recovery.