We’re in the final weeks of the regular season and there are still a lot of teams still mathematically in the race for the playoffs. Some teams are fortunately getting healthy at the right time while other teams seem to be getting more banged up.
Pittsburgh would love to have Sidney Crosby for the playoffs but he is still far from returning. It is a good sign that he has remained symptom-free and has been able to skate regularly in the last week. The next step will be to increase his on- and off-ice workouts. If he demonstrates he can be symptom-free with more exertion, he will then be allowed to practice but will not be allowed to take contact just yet. Lastly, he will then have to be cleared for contact and will have to make sure he is in game shape prior to playing. This probably puts his return date about 2-to-3 weeks away. It may be safer to put Crosby on the shelf for this season and focus on his rehab, but that would be a big blow to the Penguins’ playoff chances. Still, it is safe to assume that if Crosby can play, he probably will.
Fellow Penguin Mike Comrie showed signs of a progress by practicing last week. He had hip surgery in late December. The rehab after hip surgery needs to focus on regaining full range of motion and eccentric strength needed for hip stability. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint so it is built for mobility. Any loss in mobility will hamper skating ability and may place added stress on adjacent joints. There have not been any reports on Comrie’s post-practice status, but pain management and soreness will be key things to keep tabs on going forward.
Chicago’s Brian Campbell has a foot injury that has limited his play recently. It is unclear what injury he has right now but he was not able to play through last week. I’m wondering if this not a knee problem since he dealt with a knee injury in October/November. If this is a foot injury, there is no indication that he was hit by puck, so this may be an ankle sprain or a foot sprain. There are many small ligaments in the foot that could be injured. Foot injuries usually do not occur unless there is a specific mechanism of injury such as being hit or colliding with something. He could have easily re-aggravated a knee injury if he made an awkward movement while skating. We’ll have to wait to see if more information is released, but this is not good for the Blackhawks’ defense the Cup.
Another Blackhawk who will not be available in the playoffs this year is Jordan Hendry. He will undergo ACL surgery, which means he will not be helping them on the blueline any more this season. Expect Hendry to make a full recovery in time for camp in September. ACL rehab really focuses on the whole leg. Of course you need to strength the stabilizing muscles of the knee but, in the end, he will need to re-train the whole leg to assist in providing stability and control to the leg so the normal rotational and anterior stresses can be well controlled.
Simon Gagne of Tampa Bay is having problems with his neck again and is out indefinitely. This is curious, because in 2010, he had a neck injury and was having problems with his balance, which could be indicate inner ear problem or, in the worse case scenario, a problem with the motor regions in his brain that deal with balance. Hopefully, this is only a sore neck and not associated with the problems that he had in 2010. If it is the same problem, he may not be allowed to play again until the medical staff may finds the cause of the problem. Balance issues are serious issues and may also be indicative of more serious issues in some cases. Hopefully, this is a “simple” neck sprain/strain without all the problems he had last year.
Detroit’s Chris Osgood has been skating and has been activated from IR. He states that he has no pain but needs to gain the confidence to stretch his leg out in net. Remember he had surgery to repair a sports hernia. This may limit his hip flexibility and quickness around the crease. It sounds like practices are going well and he may be able to start next week or the week after. There is no immediate rush because Detroit’s goaltending has been pretty good, but it will be nice to have a veteran goaltender during the playoffs.
New Jersey’s Matthew Corrente, is still recovering from a shoulder injury that he sustained during a fight in mid-January. He has been skating but has not been cleared to practice. We can conclude from the situation that his shoulder is still painful and may be limiting his strength and stability. The hope is that this injury will not require surgery, but it has been about eight weeks since the injury and questions still remain. There is still a chance he returns if New Jersey sneaks in the playoffs, but don’t count on him helping your fantasy team anymore.
Shawn Matthias of Florida is about to make his return from a broken ankle he sustained in late January. The big thing to look at in the first week back is his agility and endurance. How quick will he be on his skates, and how effective he will be in the third period? We’ll have to see.
Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa will also be looking to make his return sometime this week. He fractured his foot, but doctors were hoping for a three-week turnaround. That was being overly optimistic. A four-week return is still optimistic but more doable. It would be more realistic to give him another 1-to-2 weeks, which would allow the bone to heal and decrease the chances of having any issues with pain or swelling once he is skating again. Vancouver is playing well, so it may benefit them to give Bieksa enough time to heal so he is ready for the playoffs.