Injury Report: Dainius Zubrus Out; Stefan Matteau In?

There was an interesting development — to say the least — at the Devils’ morning skate today. Dainius Zubrus did not skate due to an upper-body injury, while Stefan Matteau took his place on the top line at left wing. That would appear to mean Matteau will be sticking around this season.

Via Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice:

Dainius Zubrus is not participating in the Devils’ morning skate today at Prudential Center and will not play in tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning because of an upper-body injury, the team says.

Rookie left wing Stefan Matteau is skating this morning in Zubrus’ spot on the top line with Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk. That doesn’t guarantee he’ll play in that spot, though.

Matteau has been a healthy scratch the last four games after playing in the first five games of the season. If he plays in a sixth NHL game this season, it will count as a full year off his contract.

Corey Griffin

If Matteau is staying, and it certainly appears that he is, it strikes as a bit odd that they waited until an injury to play him in his sixth game. Perhaps they liked what he did in the meeting room or in practice. Still, it seems a bit odd to me that he only gets in because of an injury. Does that mean he’ll spend the season in and out of the lineup? If he’s in the lineup, will he skate 10 minutes a night on the fourth line? I’m not sure I’m buying that as a good development strategy. Obviously we’ll have to see how this plays out, but for now, I’m dubious of this decision process. The injury to Zubrus is likely minor, more of a maintenance day than anything, so he’ll be back in before you know it, likely Saturday against Pittsburgh. Perhaps this is similar to when the Devils used Mark Fayne’s minor injury to get Adam Larsson time to prove he belonged on the ice. Unlike Larsson, once Matteau skates tonight, that’s ballgame. He’s here. For good. It’s a gutsy move by Lou, but I’m not sure I agree with it.