Injury Report: Ponikarovsky, Gionta, Salvador At Practice Thursday

In one of the better signs the Devils have had recently, the team saw three of its injured players participate in practice Thursday.

Corey Griffin

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.

NEWS: Ilya Kovalchuk Will Probably Be Out ‘Short Time’

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.

Corey Griffin

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.

Injury Report: Henrik Tallinder Practices, Says He’s Ready

Henrik Tallinder made a full appearance at today’s optional skate, testing out his ankle to very positive results.

Corey Griffin

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.

Injury Report: Alexei Ponikarovsky Misses Third Period

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.

Injury Report: Andrei Loktionov ‘Sore,’ Aims To Return Thursday

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.

Corey Griffin

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.

NEWS: Martin Brodeur Returns To Practice, Reveals Injury

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?

Corey Griffin

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.

Injury Report: Everyone Skates, No One Plays!

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?

Corey Griffin

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.

 

Injury Report: Brodeur’s Status and Salvador’s Injury

Prior to Sunday’s game, Devils coach Pete DeBoer updated the the media (and fans) on some of the injuries the Devils are currently dealing with. For one, how and when Bryce Salvador suffered his mysterious upper-body injury.

The important distinction in that note is not that Salvador is healthy, but rather that he can’t hurt himself worse by playing. As for the other tentpole of the Devils’ defensive gameplan, DeBoer offered some sort of of update on Martin Brodeur.

DeBoer also said that Henrik Tallinder remains out with a lower-body injury, but he gave no real sort of update on the injury’s nature or the timeline.

Corey Griffin

Obviously “Brodeur’s back” are the two most important words to Devils fans these days. While this isn’t much of an update, it still gives us some information to glean. For one, he’s “improving,” although I won’t read into that too much. For one, the Devils haven’t exactly been forthcoming with relevant injury information, but secondly, and more importantly, any sort of muscle strain or sore back is going to improve with time. The key is how the back reacts to strenuous activity and whether Brodeur aggravates or worsens the injury once we starts skating and practicing. That brings me to the important part of DeBoer’s update, which is that if Brodeur hasn’t even skated in front of the coach yet we can’t imagine him returning in time for Wednesday’s game against the Flyers. That would mean the earliest he could return to game action would be Friday, which would be 20 days since he originally pulled himself out of pregame warmups. That’s almost three full weeks of Brodeur being on the sideline for an injury that the Devils and Brodeur have consistently said isn’t a big deal. The longer this lingers, the worse it looks for both parties.

So Salvador’s been hurt since Feb. 28, which not so ironically is when his game started to sag. While it’s good news that he can’t worsen the injury by playing, it also means that we’re unlikely to see him at close to 100 percent for the rest of this season. That’s not good considering he averages the third-most ice time per game on the team behind only Andy Greene and the super-human Ilya Kovalchuk. The Devils have called his ailment an upper-body injury and this info leads me to think it’s some sort of shoulder sprain, which theoretically you could play with and play through, ala Dwight Howard of the NBA’s Lakers. As for how that could affect his play, any sort of shoulder issue would likely limit the power he can get on any passes or shots, which would limit his usefulness in the offensive zone. It also makes me think of the backhanded pass he tried to send behind the net Thursday night that had absolutely no oomph on it and was easily intercepted. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the length and power behind his passes over the next few games — that could be a telltale sign as to what sort of injury he’s dealing with.

As for Tallinder, the Devils don’t play until Wednesday and will likely take Monday as a full day off, giving him plenty of time to heal (assuming the injury really is minor). I’d expect him to at least be in play to skate Tuesday or Wednesday and then we’ll see from there whether he can go. If he’s cant at least try to practice before Wednesday’s game, the Devils might need to IR him just to allow for the roster spot.

Injury Report: When Will Salvador, Tallinder Return?

The Devils dropped a surprise injury on the public Saturday morning, announcing Bryce Salvador did not make the trip to Carolina due to an upper-body injury. The news caught everyone a little off-guard, since nothing relating to Salvador’s injury had hit the public before. So what is it? and serious? Coach Pete DeBoer answered today:

The news of the captain’s injury also came one day after the team said Henrik Tallinder wouldn’t make the trip to Carolina due to a lower-body injury. The two injuries leave the Devils with just six healthy defensemen for the moment and they don’t plan to recall a defensman from Albany to fill out the roster. Part of that is probably because DeBoer says it’s possible one, if not both, could play tomorrow against Winnipeg.

Corey Griffin

Not serious? Where have we heard that before? I’m kidding, although I do wonder if this is the reason why his play has been sagging in recent game. More than likely, it sounds this might be similar to what we talked about earlier. Salvador is banged up and struggling with his play, so the Devils are giving him a day off away from the rink to heal up a bit and give him some time to figure out why he’s struggling. I would be surprised if he didn’t get back in the lineup tomorrow when the Devils return home. If he doesn’t then this may be something a little more serious to worry about. For now, I’m viewing it as Salvador getting a maintenance day.

As for Tallinder, I’m a little less optimistic about tomorrow. I know DeBoer said he left him home because the Devils have extra defensemen, but that’s because they knew he wouldn’t play. The nature of his injury is still a little mysterious considering that he took part in the morning skate Thursday but then was a sudden scratch about a half hour before the game. I’m wondering he pulled his groin or maybe sprained a knee during the skate. Either way, this is why the Devils are carrying eight defensemen, although I’m still not a fan of that allocation of resources. The Devils were clearly concerned about the little nicks and pulls and strains that can pop up during a compact schedule and worried about how those injuries would affect an aging defensive corps. So tonight Adam Larsson gets back in and Peter Harrold survives to play another day.

NEWS: Hedberg Will Start Thursday; Brodeur Still Not Ready

Despite getting pulled in the second period Tuesday, it’ll be Johan Hedberg back in net again Thursday.

Corey Griffin

I won’t go into this too much — I have a lot of thoughts for tonight’s postgame recap — but I’m not surprised by this at all. I thought Hedberg just needed a night off and he got half of that tonight. With a full day off to rest between now and Thursday, you’ve got to go back to the guy who will be your backup for the rest of the season. No matter how long Kinkaid sticks around for, the No. 2 job is still Hedberg’s until he absolutely forces DeBoer’s hand. The question now is how long will Kinkaid be here? It’s been more than a few days since Marty Brodeur was sidelined and this is starting to look and feel exactly like the Zubrus and Carter injuries. First, it wasn’t serious. Then, it dragged on a little longer than the Devils made it seem before the player eventually landed on IR. Is Brodeur’s back injury worse than the Devils originally let on? Or is his back in worse shape than the doctors originally thought? He was at the game tonight and looked to be in fine spirits, so I still don’t think it’s serious in nature, but we’re starting to get to the point where it’s fair to wonder just how serious it is.