In one of the better signs the Devils have had recently, the team saw three of its injured players participate in practice Thursday.
The Devils have been pretty nonchalant about the injuries to Gionta and Salvador, so their participation isn’t that surprising. However, it was looking like Ponikarovsky might not make an appearance until the team returned home from Florida. We’ll have to see what Pete DeBoer says after practice (the team is running a double session after two days off) about their status for tomorrow’s game against the Lightning, but I’d guess at least Gionta and Salvador are likely to play. We’ll see about Poni, who won’t make some massive impact but will help the Devils stretch out their lines like DeBoer prefers.
Even though we just updated the last post, this one felt like it’s own update. Ilya Kovalchuk, who left tonight’s game with some sort of shoulder injury, is definitely going to spend some time on the shelf, according to coach Pete DeBoer.
Kovalchuk is scheduled to see doctors Sunday and will be re-evaluated then.
Look, we’re not going to overreact here, but safe to say: this ain’t good. The Devils simply cannot afford to lose Kovy — not while they’re chasing a playoff spot and not with a month left in the season. We’re not saying it’s serious, but it was pretty obvious to anyone who watched Kovy’s reaction after he got up that this wasn’t a simple bruise or ding. Kovy looked in a lot of pain and he knew immediately
. We’ll now more tomorrow but it wouldn’t surprise me if Kovy hit the injured reserve depending on tomorrow’s diagnosis. My guess is he’ll undergo a full battery of tests and we should know something Sunday afternoon. We’ll just have to wait and see what the doctors say.
Henrik Tallinder made a full appearance at today’s optional skate, testing out his ankle to very positive results.
I had started to suspect high-ankle sprain when Tallinder stopped even skating, although that may have just been some prescribed rest. However, just because the wheel is good doesn’t mean the car should get back on the road. Much like Martin Brodeur earlier in the week, Pete DeBoer isn’t going to put an injured player back in the lineup after just one practice. The question for me is whether Tallinder will jump Mark Fayne once he’s healthy. Fayne hasn’t played since March 9 and it’s starting to become a bit of a mystery as to why he’s not playing. My guess is we’ll get a pretty good look at Tallinder’s standing with Fayne at Sunday’s practice or at the very latest Monday’s morning skate.
As the headline indicates, the Devils suffered another injury Tuesday night, this time to winger Alexei Ponikarovsky. Pete DeBoer was even more tight-lipped than usual postgame.
I don’t want to react too much before knowing what we’re dealing with, but safe to say, the Devils can hardly afford another injury to a top-nine forward. We’ll see what the Devils have to say tomorrow.
With there being mystery over just what is ailing Andrei Loktionov, the Russian center announced at Tuesday’s practice that he’s simply “sore” from a hit during Friday’s game against the Flyers.
Via Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice:
“I feel better,” Loktionov said.
But not well enough to play.
“Not yet,” he said. “I hope to next game.”
Loktionov said he was “just a little bit” sore today. “I’m getting there.”
Loktionov claimed not to remember who hit him or how he was hit.
“There were a lot of hits in this game in the first three or four shifts,” he said.
Good to see Loktionov has picked up the Devils’ standard policy on disclosing injuries so quickly. But in all seriousness, it’s pretty important he returns this week considering the Devils play two teams they’re contending with for those final playoff spots. Although he was procured for only a fifth-round pick (still ridiculous), Loktionov has demonstrated immediate chemistry with one Ilya Kolvachuk, which might as well be a prerequisite for demonstrating your offensive worth to Pete DeBoer. Despite his lack of size, Loktionov isn’t afraid to play DeBoer’s style either and his shifty quickness allows him to get by or through defenders where other, bigger-bodied players might run into a bit of a wall. Loktionov’s playmaking was clearly missed Saturday and I’ll be willing to bet it’ll be a problem tonight against the Rangers, especially given how much Pete DeBoer has to shuffle his lines in order to accommodate for Loktionov’s absence. Also, it at least sounds like Loktionov’s injury isn’t one that will linger or keep him out for an extended period barring some underhanded Devils injury sneakiness. But, of course, Lou Lamoriello and DeBoer would never stoop to that. I’m kidding, of course. Expect Loktionov back in the lineup by the weekend at the latest.
Monday was the day a lot of Devils fans have been waiting for. Martin Brodeur finally returned to a full team practice and, according to the beat writers, looked spry as any 40-year-old future-Hall-of-Fame goalie can look. So what was it that sidelined Brodeur for so long?
Well that certainly makes a lot more sense than a tweaked muscle. It also explains why Brodeur was sidelined for so long with so little news on on when he might return. Pinched nerves are the kind of injury that either requires long periods of rest and minimal activity or require surgery. Thankfully for the Devils, this kind didn’t require the latter. The other good news is that it’s not necessarily an injury that can be aggravated by activity, which means fans shouldn’t worry about Marty sliding the wrong way across the crease and tweaking the muscle again, like could happen with a back muscle injury. As evidenced today, Brodeur should make as much of a recovery as one can with a pinched nerve, meaning he should be set to return to duty as soon as he gets his legs under him.
Usually when a team holds an optional practice, the biggest news comes from whichever players are currently wounded, hurt or on injured reserve. Thursday was no different, with Pete DeBoer announcing that all of the Devils’ injured players skated on their own today! That means Dainius Zubrus, Martin Brodeur and Henrik Tallinder all took to the ice as some point Thursday. Reason for celebration, right? Well, not so fast my friends.
Oh. Well, OK, that’s not too surprising, but Zubrus skating has to be a good sign, right?
Way to be a buzzkill
, Pete. But seriously, Tallinder and Zubrus are not exactly dealing with “tweaks,” so it’s not a a surprise in the least they’re not ready to just jump back in. Zubrus, in particular, has a rehab process to go through and he’s not yet done with his original four-to-six-week recovery timetable. It’s a good sign that he’s back on the ice, but I’d guess he won’t practice for at least another seven to 10 days. As for Tallinder, I think it’s obvious now that whatever lower-body injury is ailing him is worse than originally let on. (I’ll pause while you recoil your shocked face.) What the injury is remains a mystery, although it’s good that he’s now skated multiple times without a setback. I’d love to put a number on his return, but the lack of clarity from the Devils makes that difficult. If I had to guess, I’d say the earliest we see him is next Thursday.
DeBoer did say that it’s possible Brodeur could return this weekend, but reiterated that it’s a day-to-day thing. The way the Devils have handled Marty’s back injury, my guess is the Devils won’t let him go anywhere near a game until he can run through the NFL’s combine drills without feeling so much as a twinge, tweak or nudge in his 40-year-old back. Scary as it is to hear, it also wouldn’t surprise me if he and Johan Hedberg end up in even more of a timeshare than they had been to start the year. The Devils will likely take it easy with Brodeur when he returns, wanting to be sure he doesn’t aggravate the injury any further. Prepare yourself for a goaltending platoon, folks.