The playoffs are not far off, but injuries are still affecting both players and teams. Finding success in the playoffs is difficult enough as it is, but it is even harder when the team is not at full strength. Several players below are already out for the season, but there are also others who will have a chance to come back and contribute in the postseason.
Philadelphia’s Chris Pronger took a slap shot to the forearm last Thursday, but the injury does not appear to be serious. Pronger initially had trouble passing the puck, but he took part in a full-contact practice Monday and is in line to return to the ice Thursday. Make sure you activate Pronger in advance of Thursday’s action.
Fellow Flyer Oskars Bartulis dislocated his shoulder in late February and will require surgery. Bartulis is expected to miss 10-to-12 weeks; so while he is out for the rest of the regular season, he will have a chance to return if the Flyers advance a couple rounds. Exactly how much time Bartulis will miss depends on the amount of tissue damage suffered and how long it takes to re-train his muscles.
The injuries seem to be piling up for the Flyers. Matt Walker, who could have helped fill in for Pronger, suffered a knee injury several days before that will cost him a month. The injury will not affect many fantasy owners since Walker has appeared in just four NHL games this season, but it does hurt the Flyers’ depth in case of any further injuries down the road. Fortunately the team will not have to worry about fighting for a playoff spot down the strech.
Despite being traded to Vancouver on Tuesday, Chris Higgins will be out the next 2-to-3 weeks with a broken thumb. There was some hope that his timetable would be shortened after the trade, but Higgins still admits he will miss a couple more weeks. Higgins will undergo a full medical examination when he reports to the team so that the Canucks’ team doctors have a good feel for his injury. He will not make a big fantasy impact over the rest of the season, but he could help make an impact for a Canucks team with Stanley Cup aspirations.
Colorado’s Adam Foote has been dealing with a quadriceps tear since early February, and a return to the ice does not appear imminent. A return date is unpredictable because it is not clear when the muscle will be healed enough to allow Foote to resume skating. Colorado is nowhere near a playoff spot, so Foote does not have any incentive to rush back. Foote is already talking about the “R” word; so don’t be surprised if he decides this season was his last.
Florida’s Jack Skille sustained a high ankle sprain in late February and is unlikely to return this season. A high ankle sprain is a separation of the tibia and fibula, which causes a sprain of the ligament between the two bones. This type of ankle sprain is more difficult to recover from because the resultant instability, as well as the rotational forces that are key to skating, make the ankle prone to aggravation. Recovery from a high ankle sprain can be unpredictable at times, but immobilization early on helps the tissue heal while keeping the ligaments and bones in optimal position. As the rehab progresses, particular attention will be focused on keeping the syndesmosis joint between the tibia and fibula intact. Florida is not necessarily in the playoff hunt, so the team will not rush Skille back unless they make a late run at a postseason spot.
Los Angeles King Scott Parse recently suffered a setback in his recovery from a hip injury, so the team will back off his skating program for a couple weeks. Parse may have overstretched or irritated his labrum, which leaves it susceptible to aggravation. The secondary impact is that normal motion may be uncomfortable, so he may not be able to skate normally. The Kings are in the playoff race, but it looks like they will have to earn their spot without much more help from Parse.
Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik suffered a broken finger in late February and will miss the next four weeks. This is more bad news for the Penguins, who are still waiting for something positive regarding Sidney Crosby’s concussion. Orpik’s rehab should be simple, but even a seemingly minor injury like this can impede one’s ability to grip a stick and both pass and shoot effectively. Immobilization may affect tendon gliding and can weaken the hand muscles during this stage of non-use, but hopefully Orpik is able to get back to full strength by the end of the regular season.
New York Ranger Ruslan Fedotenko re-injured his shoulder Friday after taking a hard check. He reportedly felt something tear; but while that may sound serious, Fedotenko returned to practice Monday. Though he did not take part in Tuesday’s game, there is a chance he will be able to return for Thursday’s tilt.
Nashville’s Marcel Goc will have season-ending shoulder surgery for an injury he suffered in mid-February. Post-operative rehab always includes regaining full range of motion on the shoulder; but the length of time this takes depends on the extent of the surgery. Strengthening will begin immediately once the surgically repaired tissue is healed. Then, functional re-integration of the entire shoulder girdle begins so that the shoulder moves in a coordinated fashion in respects to the trunk and the rest of the body. Expect Goc to be back at 100 percent in time for training camp.