Bryce Salvador has yet to return and the “fairly significant bruise” on his right wrist is starting to look a lot worse than originally thought. To that end, the Devils send their captain for another opinion, hoping to get some clarity on whether Salvador will be able to play again this season.
I said it over the weekend and I’ll say it again now: Shut him down. I really think we’ve seen the last of Bryce Salvador this season. The wrist injury is obviously fairly serious and he still has to deal with at least two other injuries if he’s going to return to the lineup. The Devils are not going to make the postseason so there’s no reason to rush him back into the lineup. What’s troubling is that X-rays and MRIs continue to be negative, yet the injury isn’t healing. When those tests show something, doctors can prescribe a clear rehab path, be it surgical or otherwise, in order to get the player back to 100 percent. The question now isn’t “When will Salvador return?” It’s, “What’s going on with his wrist?” The second question is a far more worrisome one to answer than the first.
Bryce Salvador missed Friday’s game with a bruised wrist and it looks like two days off won’t be enough to get him ready for Monday’s trip to Toronto. Salvador sat out practice again Saturday and Pete DeBoer was not optimistic about his captain’s chances.
Shut. Him. Down. He’s as banged up as anyone on the roster right now and there’s no way he’s going to get healthy enough in time to be of assistance to the Devils this season. You know how you know this wrist injury is serious? Salvador hasn’t been seen anywhere near practice since it happened. If he were even close to being able to play, he might be skating on his own or doing work before practice. Nope, no sightings, no work — just rest, which he should get a ton of this summer. Because he shouldn’t play again until the 2013-14 season.
Ilya Kovalchuk (shoulder) practiced with the Devils again on Saturday, when the Devils decided to devote the entire session to the power play. Kovalchuk manned his usual spot on the left point but apparently declined to unleash his signature shot from that location. There (once again) were no slapshots and Tom Gulitti didn’t catch him taking any one-timers either.
With two days until the Devils’ next game in Toronto on Monday, there was thought that Kovy could return against the Leafs. Kovy, however, isn’t exactly feeling that idea just yet.
I’m sure there are probably some players that think Kovy should be back Monday because the Devils are in such dire straits. In fact, I’d bet the longer he sits, the louder that group will get. But let’s be real — the Devils are such long shots to make the postseason at this point there’s really no point in rushing him back even more just to play in a desperation game they would probably be outmatched in anyway. The Devils and Kovy have already said he’ll return before he’s 100 percent, but you don’t want him coming back at 50 or 60 percent and risk suffering a serious injury that will sideline him into next season. Would he be playing if this were the postseason? Probably, but it’s not. In fact, if the Devils lose Monday, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to let him rest and heal the final six games. Just saying.
This means Keith Kinkaid will serve as Brodeur’s caddy against the Senators tonight.
Pete DeBoer announced at Friday’s morning skate that neither Ilya Kovalchuk (shoulder) nor Bryce Salvador (wrist) will be in the lineup against the Senators tonight. Neither player participated in today’s skate.
This isn’t much of a surprise considering what DeBoer said about both players at Thursday’s practice. While I think Kovy has a solid shot to return to the lineup Monday night, it seems readily apparent that Salvador could be looking at a decent chunk of time in the press box. With Anton Volchenkov suspended, that means the Devils will have to roll with Adam Larsson (recovered from a foot injury) and Peter Harrold tonight against Ottawa and possibly for the next few games. That is, of course, assuming the Devils don’t recall anyone from AHL Albany. I like both Larsson and Harrold, the former moreso than the latter, but I don’t think there’s any debating right now that neither are playing like top-six defensemen. While the Senators’ offense can be managed, Monday’s opponent, the Maple Leafs, have some very dangerous offensive pieces that could give both Larsson and Harrold (and Tallinder) some pretty significant trouble. But at this point, looking ahead is foolhardy. The Devils need to make sure Larsson and Harrold play smart, sound, positional hockey and don’t get caught watching the puck in their own end.
Bryce Salvador left Wednesday’s game against the Bruins after taking a Zdeno Chara shot to the wrist during the second period. Salvador never returned and he underwent X-rays on the wrist Thursday, which were negative.
This is obviously good news because it certainly looked like Chara’s shot could’ve broken Salvador’s wrist considering Salvador’s reaction. He couldn’t even grip the stick and tried to play the puck with the stick in his off hand. It helped lead to Chara’s a few moments later. The problem now is how useful will Salvador be with this wrist injury? He’s already playing through upper- and lower-body injuries and clearly doesn’t have the strength on the puck he used to. He’s also significantly slower because of an ailing knee/hip. If he has difficulty gripping a stick, I have serious questions about whether he should play Friday and maybe Monday, too. I realize the Devils would then be down two top-six defensemen with Anton Volchenkov suspended the next four games, but at what point do you say “enough is enough” with Salvador. No one is questioning his toughness, but I am questioning how useful he can be to this team moving forward.
If there’s a phrase to sum up the Devils’ 2013 season, I think “banged up” might be the most relevant term. New Jersey’s injury problems have gotten to the point where players are missing games because of practice (WE TALKIN’ BOUT PRACTICE!) injuries. Not a game, not a game. PRAC-TICE.
The latest additions to the injury report ledger were Adam Larsson and Johan Hedberg, who both missed Wednesday night’s loss after being hurt in practice Tuesday. Larsson took a puck off his foot (from Anton Volchenkov, no less) and couldn’t even put his foot in a skate yesterday. Thankfully, he’s much better today.
Hedberg — wellllll, not so much.
With Volchenkov likely facing a suspension and Bryce Salvador (wrist) in doubt, the Devils need Larsson tomorrow night. Hedberg? His usefulness is minimized by the fact that Martin Brodeur is never going to take a night off again — at least not this year. We should get definitive word on both players at tomorrow’s morning skate but I’d expect Larsson to be in the lineup against the Senators.
Ilya Kovalchuk practiced again Thursday but said there’s still discomfort in his shoulder and he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play Friday. Kovalchuk said he pushed himself harder today, even attempting some one-timers.
So basically, Kovalchuk is the Devils’ Rick Ross.
Can’t you imagine Kovy rocking a massive gold chain with his shirt open on the beaches of Russia? Are there beaches in Russia? Does Kovy own any Ross-like jewelry? These are the questions that keep me up in the middle of the day. Much like the question of when Kovalchuk will return to the lineup likely hounds Pete DeBoer. Kovy said after practice today that he doesn’t want to play if he can’t play like himself, ala taking slapshots and one-timers, which is something we talked about yesterday. If Kovy can’t fire off his rocket shots, or play the puck with any real upper-body strength, then how much use is he to the Devils at this point? The Devils obviously need Kovalchuk back in the lineup, but they need a somewhat healthy version in order to benefit from his presence. I think that’s something Kovalchuk has repeatedly tried to get across the last couple of days. What’s interesting to me is that DeBoer seems far more open to a much more limited version of Kovalchuk being in the lineup. Is that desperation creeping in? Perhaps. It’s also DeBoer realizing that Kovalchuk at 60 percent is still better than maybe every forward except Patrik Elias. Kovy said yesterday that he and the team are on the same page with his rehab, but things seemed to diverge a little bit today. I wouldn’t read anything into it, but it would be incredibly fascinating to see what version of Kovalchuk gets back on the ice and at what time. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if DeBoer angles to get him back sooner than he’s ready.
The Devils announced after Thursday night’s loss that Bryce Salvador (wrist), Adam Larsson (hit by shot) and Johan Hedberg (back) would be re-evaluated Thursday. Larsson and Hedberg’s injuries occurred during practice Tuesday, while Salvador left Wednesday’s game in the second period after taking a Zdeno Chara shot to the hand/wrist area. Pete DeBoer was cagey on how serious the injury is, but listening to him and Martin Brodeur talk about their captain, things sound ominous.
I’ll be the first to tell you Salvador hasn’t been up to snuff this season, particularly in the “second half.” But you can’t deny what he means to the team on the ice and in the room. Regardless of how poorly he’s played at times, he’s still one of their better defensemen (which is saying something). He’s also a steadying presence for a team that can lose its head at the drop of the puck. If you want to know how much he matters, just listen to the way his teammates speak about him. By my count, Salvador is playing with at least some sort of knee/hip injury, an undisclosed upper-body injury (possibly shoulder/back) and now this wrist injury. Yes, he’s been slow at times and unable to move opponents out of the crease or slot (Hello, Jaromir Jagr), but he’s clearly playing at way less than 100 percent. With the injuries the Devils have already dealt with, a serious injury to their captain might be the final blow — especially with Larsson banged up and Anton Volchenkov likely facing a suspension for his elbow on Brad Marchand tonight.
Ilya Kovalchuk took part in Wednesday’s morning skate and again seemed to make progress toward a return. Kovalchuk said that he pushed himself harder today than Tuesday and even got a little physical at the end of the skate.
Via Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger:
“We definitely did more shots and a little battle there at the end. It feels good, so it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Kovalchuk said.
But no one-timers or full-force slap shots.
“Not yet. I shot harder for sure today. And when I was skating and did the sprints, it didn’t bother me at all, so that’s a positive thing,” he said.
It’s good to see that he’s progressing, but the slap shot thing bugs me for reasons I’ll explain below. As for when he’ll return, Kovy is definitely out tonight and was skeptical when asked about Friday’s game against Ottawa.
“I don’t know. We’re going to decide with the doctors and coaches,” he said, “but I don’t think so.”
Both Pete DeBoer and Kovalchuk are on record as saying they won’t wait until Kovy is 100 percent before returning him to the lineup, which is both bad and good. Obviously, the Devils are desperate for him to return. Much like with Martin Brodeur, the Devils simply look and play (effort-wise) like a different team with Kovalchuk on the bench and on the ice. The problem, though, is that Kovalchuk’s slap shot (and shot in general) might be his best attribute. He can score from pretty much anywhere with absurd power and precision and I wonder how weakened his shot will be by this injury. Kovy seems very reluctant to put any sort of pressure or power behind his shots right now and with the Devils likely hoping for a return next week, we could be looking at a very troublesome situation. Any percentage or amount of Kovalchuk is good for this Devils team, but how much he’ll be able to help remains very much in doubt. As a matter of fact, I wonder whether the Devils might be better off moving him off the point on the power play once he does return.