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Ice Chips: Injuries Galore!

November 28, 2008 | By Mike Chen | comment on this post

We’ve got significant injuries to report, some of which you might have heard about and some which may have slipped under the radar as you stuffed yourself with turkey (Canadian readers, you’re welcome to join in the festivities even though your Thanksgiving was a little while back). Let’s see who’s injured — and what impact it’ll have.

Roberto Luongo is week-to-week after an undisclosed lower-body injury (here’s a hint: his groin hurts). Odds are it’ll be at least a month, and for those fantasy owners that have Luongo, be prepared for an up-and-down season. For goalies, groin injuries are among the worst that you can have, as they affect your lower-body strength, speed, and flexibility. If that area is tender, not only will it affect performance, it’ll easily flare up when under duress.

In other words, even when Luongo returns, he probably won’t be 100 per cent for a while. And if the Canucks want to manage his injury smartly, they’ll give Curtis Sanford more starts than usual after Luongo returns so that his groin has more time to strengthen between games. In the meantime, Sanford’s not a bad pickup if you need a starting goalie.

More injuried goalies? Nikolai Khabibulin, the guy who was on waivers not too long ago, has been outplaying fellow expensive goalie Cristobal Huet. That is, until Khabibulin got hurt Wednesday night against the Sharks. The Bulin Wall is currently considered day-to-day with the ever popular “lower body injury.” Well, it looks like it’s a good thing now that the Hawks signed Huet.

In the long term, this presents a twist to the whole Khabibulin/Huet saga, as it could give Huet an opportunity to take the proverbial ball (err, puck) and run with it. If he’s successful, Khabibulin’s strong play early on could have earned him trade interest when he’s healthy. However, if Huet stumbles, Khabibulin could be given back the reins when he returns, and the crease logjam could rear its ugly head again.

When it comes to injured forwards, Wayne Gretzky’s angry bench tirades will probably be even worse with Olli Jokinen out of the lineup. The team’s second-leading scorer will be sidelined for at least two weeks after hurting his shoulder on Wednesday. The good news for the Coyotes is that their most critical forward, Shane Doan, is healthy and on a roll. In the meantime, there are a few options to take Jokinen’s ice time. The logical choice would be Steve Reinprecht, though Gretzky could give reliable young forward Martin Hanzal a greater chance to be an impact player. The other option is to take a gamble on talented rookie Kyle Turris.

Brenden Morrow’s torn ACL creates a whole mess of problems on an already awful Dallas team. However, it does also crack open the door for a player like Brad Richards to put the team on his back. Richards, who’s been solidly mediocre since arriving in Dallas, has a history of being a big-game player with strong leadership skills. If there’s any situation that can help pull the best out of Richards, it’s this one. After all, on paper the Stars still have a pretty full roster. It’d help if Marty Turco could stop a beach ball, though.

Not that it’ll matter too much on the ice, but Jason Blake is out with concussion-like symptoms. Blake’s highly paid butt has been in and out of Ron Wilson’s doghouse all season, and with the arrival of Lee Stempniak from St. Louis, Wilson will probably take the spotlight even further away from Blake when he returns.

The Washington Capitals are being run over by injuries, yet they’re finding ways to stay in games. Check out this list: Alexander Semin, Mike Green, Sergei Fedorov, and now captain Chris Clark. Clark, who never lived up to his breakout season a few years back, will be out about three weeks. Semin and Green are obviously the most critical injuries and they continue to be day to day. That hasn’t stopped Alexander Ovechkin’s hot streak — he’s got a ridiculous 21 points in nine games.

The Week Ahead

  • There’s a full slate of games on Friday and Saturday as Americans shake off their post-turkey, post-NFL malaise. If you missed hockey on Thursday, grab your favourite adult beverage and don’t leave the TV for 48 hours starting Friday at 12 p.m. EST.
  • The Maple Leafs take their show to the west coast for the first time in several hundred years with stops against Los Angeles, San Jose, and Phoenix. Will Ron Wilson be gunning for revenge against the Sharks or will he walk in feeling shamed that he never got the team to play this well?
  • Follow the Luongo-less Show…the Canucks travel to Calgary, then swing by Columbus, then make a pit stop in Detroit. Missing Luongo probably won’t hurt as much against the hit-and-miss Flames and Blue Jackets, but the Red Wings will prove to be a different problem.
  • Carolina will look to avoid a home-and-home sweep at the hands of the blazing Philadelphia Flyers Friday afternoon. The ‘Canes problem? Offense, or lack thereof more specifically. In the last nine games, this team has managed three or more goals just twice, and this has contributed to its current tailspin. One the bright side, right winger Chad LaRose has bulged the twine in three straight games. Consider picking him up in deeper leagues, but note that he’s pulled this streaky stuff before. Earlier this month, LaRose scored in back-to-back games, but then went scoreless in eight straight before his current run.

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