The season is nearly over, but there are still many playoff spots up for grabs. A healthy lineup could play a key role in determining who makes it in and who heads home early.
The Red Wings are comfortably in the playoffs, but there are some serious questions surrounding their goalie situation at the moment. First, Jimmy Howard left Saturday’s game with a sprained left shoulder. The MRI was negative for structural damage, so he will be able to return once the pain and inflammation goes away. Eliminating aggravating motions will assist with increasing the speed of his recovery. If the shoulder is irritated by just by lifting the arm, the shoulder may need more time to heal. If you are able to decrease the frequency at which the shoulder is irritated, the recovery time should be shorter. An injury to your starting goalie is never good, but the good news for the Red Wings is Howard’s absence looks to be a short one. Howard will sit out Wednesday’s game, but he expects to return to the ice Saturday against the Predators.
Veteran backup Chris Osgood would have been a fine fill-in for the injured Howard, but he recently suffered a setback in his recovery from sports hernia surgery and was placed on long-term injured reserve. Osgood will not be able to return until April 8 at the earliest, but there has been no indication as to whether or not he will be healthy enough to be activated on that date. If Osgood does not improve soon, the Red Wings may be forced to enter the playoffs with Joey MacDonald serving as the backup goalie behind Howard.
The Kings currently sit in fifth place in the West, but they will have a hard time maintaining that spot, or finding success in the playoffs, without leading scorer Anze Kopitar. Kopitar broke his right ankle during Saturday’s game and also suffered a high ankle sprain that will need surgery to repair the torn ligaments. The Kings originally put a six-week timetable on Kopitar’s return, but he is now considered to be out indefinitely. One thing is for certain – Kopitar will not help your fantasy team anymore this season.
Buffalo’s Jordan Leopold appeared to suffer a minor injury when he collided with Ryan Miller during Saturday’s game, but the result is a worst-case scenario for the Sabres and fantasy owners: Leopold is out for the season. Though the type and extent of the injury have not been revealed, a trip to a finger specialist a couple days ago may give the Sabres a better feel for his availability during the playoffs. Fantasy owners can safely drop him now though.
Philadelphia’s Chris Pronger, hoping to return before the end of the regular season, took slapshots during Thursday’s morning skate. Though Pronger was sore Friday and admitted that he “probably overdid it” a bit, it does not appear to be a major setback. Pronger also noted that he is still unable to fully squeeze his hand, so he won’t be able to make much more progress until his grip strength returns. Even if Pronger makes it back before the regular season ends, he won’t be able to help your fantasy team unless you play through the final week.
The Islanders’ Andrew MacDonald will undergo surgery to repair a torn hip labrum and will miss the rest of the season. He tried to play through the injury for a couple weeks, but with the Islanders out of the playoffs, both player and team decided to shut it down for the year. The recovery after labral surgery is not too complicated, but there needs to a controlled stretching and strengthening of the tissue so that the hip is protected during the entire process. If everything goes smoothly, MacDonald should be back in time for training camp in the fall.
Washington’s Jason Arnott/b> missed six games with a groin injury, but he returned to the lineup Tuesday and skated over 14 minutes. Arnott is not completely out of the woods yet since groin injuries are prone to aggravation, but he will be safe to use for fantasy purposes as long as he is in the lineup.
Vancouver’s Tanner Glass remains sidelined with a rib injury that has kept him off the ice since March 10. Glass took part in off-ice workouts Friday and skated a bit Saturday, but he did not take part in practice Monday and won’t play until he is able to do so. Glass will be given all the time he needs to heal with Vancouver is in the top spot in the Western Conference.
Columbus’s Ethan Moreau bruised his foot while blocking a shot during last Thursday’s morning skate and is out indefinitely. The foot is one of the most vulnerable areas of the body because it is all skin and bone, and the boot itself offers little protection versus a slap shot. Moreau left the arena wearing a protective boot and has been unable to play since. With just six games remaining in the regular season, and Columbus on the outside of the playoffs looking in, don’t be surprised if Moreau is done.
Lastly, Montreal’s Alexander Picard is dealing with a foot injury. He did not play Saturday and was scratched from Tuesday’s game as well. A recovery timetable for Picard has not been announced, but the injury does not appear to be something that will end his season.