After dropping a 1-0 contest to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Devils quickly turned their focus to the Minnesota Wild.
They’ll be shorthanded once again, as Patrik Elias (upper body) and Travis Zajac (ankle) will not make the flight over to St. Paul.
There is no timetable for the return of either.
The Devils goaltending situation for tonight is still not known. Last night, Martin Brodeur responded with a “no” when asked if he was going to start.
Pete DeBoer was also committal as to the return of Cory Schneider, but it’s likely that he is going to get the start tonight if in fact Brodeur is not playing.
We’ll keep you updated on that situation.
Defenseman Mark Fayne and winger Matt D’Agostini miss the last four and three games of the season, respectively. At the time, it wasn’t 100 percent clear why that happened, particularly with Fayne. At today’s breakup day, we got some clarity on the situation with Fayne revealing he has bulging disc in his lower back that caused a harp, shooting pain” down one of his legs.
Via Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice:
Fayne said he first hurt his back during the team’s April 15 game in Toronto, but it didn’t start to really bother him for a few days after that.
“My back tightened up during that game,” he said. “It was sore, but I could play the next week, but then something hit one of the nerves, a bulging disc, and it would just shoot down my leg. It’s weird that it happened two games after. I just have to stay off it.”
Fayne said he will not require surgery.
As for D’Agostini, it was a sprained that sidelined him.
“It happened in practice,” D’Agostini said. “We were doing some down-low drills. I kind of just went into the boards funny. It kept me out of the last week or so.”
D’Agostini said the injury does not appear to be anything serious.
“It’s already starting to feel better,” D’Agostini said. “I’ll have an MRI maybe if it’s still lingering in the next week or so. We’ll see how it progresses.”
As stipulated in the trade, if the Devils make D’Agostini, a potential restricted free agent, a qualifying offer or re-sign him, the Blues get the Devils’ 2015 fourth-round pick. If the Devils decide not to qualify or re-sign D’Agostini, they get St. Louis’ 2015 seventh-round pick and the Blues get the Devils’ 2015 fifth-round pick.
That would explain things. A sprained wrist can be a, well, let’s just say a “nudge” to deal with, where a bulging disc in your back is extremely painful. Both players should be good to go next season — that is, if D’Agostini is retained, which Lou Lamoriello wouldn’t address today.
Bryce Salvador hasn’t played since April 11 due to a wrist injury. Salvador tried to come back during the final weeks of the regular season but was eventually shut down by the team and doctors.
Via Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger:
Captain Bryce Salvador said he will not need surgery on his right hand and wrist, where he was struck by a Zdeno Chara slap shot.
“I’m pretty fortunate not to be working on my hand this summer,” he said. “I’ll probably be cleared (by doctors) in a week. No surgery, just a little rehab to get the strength back.”
It’s good news that he just needs a week or so to heal up and that shows (I’m guessing) if the Devils had made the playoffs, he would’ve been on the ice for Game 2 or Game 3, if not Game 1. Of course, before he returns to the lineup, he’ll obviously have to show Pete DeBoer he’s ready. “How will he do that,” you ask? I imagine it will go something like this:
Bryce Salvador hasn’t played since taking a puck off his hand/wrist on April 10. The Devils initially stated they expected Salvador to return this season, but the more the injury linger, the less likely that option became. On Monday, the Devils announced the inevitable.
This is the smart decision. It’s the right decision. Let his hand/wrist heal in the next couple weeks and over the summer. Also, let’s not forget that the hand/wrist injury is far from the only thing bothering Salvador. There’s likely a knee/hip issue as well as an upper-body injury that Salvador admitted earlier in the season he’d have to play with all year. Salvador will have plenty of time to get in shape before training camp next season, although I’m not sure if he’ll stay the captain or keep his spot on the Devils’ top defensive pairing after the season he’s had.
The Devils are long shots to make the playoffs. This isn’t new. Neither is Ilya Kovalchuk’s ailing shoulder, which has sidelined him since March 23. There’s a school of thought (championed here) that it might be best to rest Kovalchuk for the rest of the season to avoid long-term damage. Except Pete DeBoer and Kovalchuk have absolutely no interest in anything resembling a shutdown.
Via Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice:
Although he practiced today on the fifth line with Andrei Loktionov, Krys Barch and Tom Kostopoulos and remained on the ice for extra work afterward, he sounded optimistic that he could be back playing soon.
“I felt the best so far that I felt,” Kovalchuk said. “I feel pretty confident. I took a couple of one-timers and a little bit of contact, so it’s good.”
With the Devils’ playoff hopes on life support – they are six points out of a playoff spot with only five games remaining – Kovalchuk would love to come back and help the team. But he also said that he wants to come back and play even if the team is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and has no interest in shutting down for the season.
“I want to get back as soon as I can, definitely” he said. “I don’t care if we will be mathematically out or not. We’re all professionals. The fans deserve to see the best effort and we will fight to the last second of the last game anyway whatever happens. So, it’s not even in my mind to sit out the (rest of) year. I’m already bored as hell. It’s been almost four weeks skating here by myself every day and you can tell it’s not too much fun, so you want to get back as soon as you can.”
Neither Kovy nor DeBoer would say whether they expect him in the lineup Saturday afternoon, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t play in at least one of the weekend games given his rapid improvement. Remember, only two days ago, Kovy seemed visibly frustrated with the lack of progress in his shoulder. The fact that he was able to take a pain-free one-timer during practice today is a big boost to his confidence and also DeBoer’s confidence in putting him in without worrying about Kovy suffering a worse injury.
That said, I’m still very wary of putting him in these final five games. I get the whole “professional” angle and I admire that he’s at least speaking with the fans/ticket buyers in mind. That’ll go a long way toward winning him points with the fan base. However, you have to wonder if the rapid improvement has anything to do with the Devils suddenly getting a win and not being out of it. Athletes, particularly elite ones like Kovalchuk, feel they’re the difference. They feel like if they’re in the lineup, everything changes — even in a team game like hockey. I’ll bet you Kovy feels like if he hadn’t missed this time the Devils would be in the playoff picture instead of staring up at it. So at some point, you have to protect the player from himself.
The math is against the Devils, but it hasn’t eliminated them yet, so from that point of view I get the idea that you want him back. I get the alluring visual that is an 80-percent or 90-percent version of your best player back on the ice for the final stretch. But is it really worth it if he tears a labrum? Or aggravates whatever injury he’s already dealing with? Why? For a couple extra points or goals at the end of the year? If I’m wrong and his return spurs them into the playoffs and he stays as healthy as possible, I’ll admit it. But I’m just saying the cost-benefit angle needs to be part of this discussion.
Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger caught up with injured defenseman Bryce Salvador prior to Thursday’s game against the Flyers. Salvador told Chere the puck that injured him hit where the thumb meets the hand and that further X-rays show nothing is broken. That’s good — but it doesn’t mean he’ll play again this season.
We’ve been saying for the past week that Salvador should be shut down and this seems like pretty strong confirmation that he will be. It’s the right decision.