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Injury Analysis: All-Star Break Decisions

William Lee

William Lee writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

The All-Star break has arrived, which will give injured players a couple extra days to rest. However, several banged-up players were able to get back on the ice before the break and give their team an extra boost. Let’s examine below.

Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby is still dealing with concussion symptoms and has yet to resume skating. He is experiencing headaches and has not even been given clearance to skate. The presence of the headaches indicates that the brain is still healing, so Crosby’s absence could continue well after the break. Crosby won’t be rushed back, so fantasy owners will have to remain patient.

Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers suffered a ribcage injury last Saturday and was held out of the team’s final two games before the break. However, he is expected to return to the ice when the Rangers resume play on February 1. Ribcage injuries impact a player’s ability to shoot and skate; and they also influence one’s endurance because they can impact breathing. These injuries may sound minor, but they can be tricky because they are prone to re-injury. The Rangers were wise to give Girardi a couple extra days of rest.

Fellow Ranger Vaclav Prospal is ready to play after missing the entire season up to this point. His right knee is feeling stronger and he is no longer feeling any soreness. The Rangers activated him from injured reserve right before the break, which means Prospal will likely be on the ice when the Rangers resume playing February 1. Prospal should be monitored initially given the length of time he was out, but he could be worth a look in mid-to-deep sized leagues.

A concussion cost Boston’s Marc Savard a big chunk of last season, so the team will not take any chances after he suffered another moderate one Saturday. Head coach Claude Julien did not notice any obvious symptoms after Saturday’s game, but Savard was still held out of Monday’s game. Savard is out indefinitely, and it’s anyone guess as to when he will return given his history of head injuries.

Minnesota’s Nick Schultz also got hurt last Saturday, and he also suffered a head injury. However, the fact that Schultz played in Tuesday’s game is reason enough to believe the injury was only minor. Expect Schultz to be fine when the Wild hit the ice again.

Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta of Buffalo hurt his hand again last Thursday and was placed on injured reserve Monday. There was fear that he broke his already-fractured hand again, but fortunately it looks like he did not. However, Kaleta is experiencing a lot of pain and is unable to handle the puck. Given all the small bones, ligaments and muscles in the hand, there are many things that could be injured even though the bigger bones remain intact. The first objective is Kaleta’s recovery will be alleviating the pain and likely swelling. If the pain persists longer than expected, the medical staff may re-examine Kaleta’s hand and do more radiological studies to a new diagnosis. Kaleta will get a few days to rest his hand over break, but it’s unlikely that he will be on the ice when the Sabres return to action next Friday.

Buffalo’s Drew Stafford returned to action Tuesday after missing the last three games with a groin injury. Stafford played 16 minutes in Tuesday’s game and recorded his ninth assist of the season. Groin injuries can be touchy, but Stafford should be fine after playing Tuesday.

Detroit’s Daniel Cleary skated with the team Tuesday for the first time since sustaining an ankle fracture. This indicates he has regained motion and that the ankle is strong enough to handle the rigors of skating. Cleary should be able to get back on the ice when the Red Wings return to action on February 2.

New Jersey’s Matt Taormina will miss a couple weeks after undergoing ankle surgery Monday. The ankle will be immobilized for some time, which will cause it to stiffen and weaken. Still, the surgery should speed up his recovery since it will make the ankle more stable. If every thing goes well, Taormina could be back on the ice later this season.