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NHL Injury Analysis: Flames Doused

Hannah Rawls

Hannah is from St. Petersburg, FL. She graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University. She's a certified athletic trainer and currently works for a NCAA D2 college in Florida. She has worked with NAIA and NCAA football, rugby, and lacrosse and ACHA ice hockey as an athletic trainer.

In two weeks this too short regular season will be over. In two weeks 16 teams will start a postseason war over Lord Stanley's Cup. In two weeks the Lightning and Panthers players will take to the golf courses and beaches once again and wish they had played just a little bit harder in their last season in the Southeast Division (this realignment is going to be nothing less than interesting). This season has shown us teams that deserve to play past April 27th, and teams that just couldn't hold it together. After the regular season is finished it's going to be more intense, and more injury ridden. This postseason is going to be more than femoral arteries being slashed; it's going to be ligaments being ripped apart and muscles being stretched to their breaking point.

Ales Hemsky (Oilers) and Zenon Konopka (Wild) have something in common at the end point of the regular season. Apparently both of these gentlemen have been playing for a while on broken feet. Now neither team has officially said that their feet are broken exactly (and they very well may not be, they could just be bruised bones for all we know) but both are sitting out for now to heal up. Hemsky blocked a shot in Detroit with his foot while Edmonton was out on the road in early March and has been increasingly showing how much pain he's in on the ice with dwindling results during his ice time. Since there is no chance of the Oilers making it to the playoffs, sitting Hemsky out for only a week (that's the Oilers' announced timeline for return) doesn't really make sense. But, I can understand the team wanting to leave the regular season with some dignity and Hemsky is apparently helping the team with that this season. In 38 games, Hemsky has 9 goals and 11 assists. As for Konopka, he's up and about in a walking cast and he is day-to-day for now. The Wild might not be super upset about losing the 4th liner for the next two weeks but I know some fantasy folks might cry themselves to sleep knowing they're missing out on some extra penalty minutes (with 34 games he has 100 PIM).

Flyer's center Zac Rinaldo is recovering from a high-ankle sprain he suffered on April 3rd. Rinaldo has been on crutches for the past two weeks and the Flyers' GM seems to think the he may see another game before the end of the season (and by that I mean the next two weeks, because we all know Philly's chances of making the playoffs are 1-in-a-miracle right now). A high ankle sprain occurs with a twisting or rotational force at the ankle, and causes the high ankle ligaments to stretch or tear. The high ankle ligaments are located on the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) and help hold the two bones together. A great amount of force is sent through this area of the leg when walking, running, or skating and when these ligaments are damaged it can result in a great deal of pain with weight bearing. Rehab for this injury starts out almost immediately but the healing time for a high ankle sprain is longer than a normal sprain and can take 6 weeks or more. I can understand Rinaldo's return if this was a minor high ankle sprain, or if the Flyers had a chance to advance to the postseason, or if Rinaldo's stats were better (in 32 games he has 3 goals and 2 assists) but I just don't see the need to rush someone through rehab and risk another injury (weakening of the high ankle ligaments can leave a person open for a fibula fracture) and eventual playing time next season.

Joel Ward of Washington has been suffering from a knee contusion since blocking a shot from Tampa Bay's Sami Solo on April 7th. According to sources in Washington, Ward took the ice on Friday and isn't looking too smooth or confident out there. The Capitals' official word is that Ward has a "knee contusion" and that there is "severe bruising" at the knee. A knee contusion is just a bruise on the knee, so hopefully (to save his manhood) Ward has something like a bone bruise or the puck that hit him ruptured a bursa sac (a small sack of fluid that helps make a cushion between bones, tendons, joints, etc.) because if it's just a regular bruise then I don't even know what to say. I've talked about bone bruises before and I can honestly say that they hurt, really bad, and having one in the knee region probably doesn't make things any better. If it's a ruptured bursa sac then once the swelling (because it's a fluid filled sack the effects of it rupturing cause pain and fluid buildup in the area) goes down then his pain and discomfort should decrease as well. It's only been about a week since he was hurt so I'm sure that we'll see him again before the end of the regular season, and since the Caps are sitting at the top of the Southeast Division I'm sure this isn't the end of his season. In 39 games this season, Ward has put up 8 goals, 12 assists and has a plus-20.

Calgary will be out a veteran winger for the rest of their season now that Alex Tanguay is out for 4-6 weeks due to a Grade 2 MCL knee sprain. We've talked about this kind of injury before, but I feel like you might need a refresher. A Grade 2 MCL knee sprain is when the MCL (medial collateral ligament) is partially torn. Instability is a big issue when any of the four major ligaments of the knee are injured to this extent or worse (Grade 3, full tear). The loss of Tanguay can't really be hurting the Flames due to their less than desirable conference standings, but it could be kind of sad for some fantasy owners (with 40 games he has 11 goals and 16 assists).