Injury updates: The latest - what little is revealed - on injured playoff players such as Seguin, Maatta and others...
Hey everyone, welcome to your mid-round recap of injuries in the Stanley Cup Playoffs! As usual, injury news is scarce in the postseason, but there’s some stuff the coaches just can’t hide.
Washington vs Pittsburgh
Bryan Rust (day-to-day, knee)
While Fleury suited up for Game 3 in a backup role, he wasn’t cleared to play until yesterday. What was Pittsburgh’s plan if Matt Murray got injured or had a bad game? Put in a concussed player? Their history of dealing with concussion injuries has not been stellar, but at least nothing happened. Well, except this. Johansson might not miss any time, which is more than I can say for Olli Määttä. After how woozy he was from the Brooks Orpik hit, I’d be surprised to see him back before the Stanley Cup Final, if Pittsburgh makes it that far.
To be honest, if Orpik doesn’t take out Määttä in Game 2, I don’t think Kris Letang gets suspended. The hit was just 30 milliseconds over the line of what constitutes late, which… go ahead and try to time that on a watch. It’s insanely small. He made head contact, but it was incidental, as he went through MoJo’s left shoulder. He exploded upwards, but that’s not illegal, as he didn’t jump into the hit and he wasn’t targeting the head (or he was and missed, who knows?). The Department of Player Safety suspended him for the 30 milliseconds and called it interference, saying that “players who are not in possession of the puck are never eligible to be checked”, which makes you wonder if they’ve ever watched a playoff game in their life. They qualify it by saying that a player who has initiated a hit may finish their check, but the sheer amount of “finished checks” that are “initiated” after the player has passed the puck would mean one-game suspensions for entire teams at a time. Washington has Barry Trotz to thank for taking Pittsburgh’s current playoff MVP out of their lineup. The Caps’ head coach has been playing mind games through the media all series; it’s easy to understand why he’s so respected around the league.
In other news, Rust left the game early and the Pens played another game a man short as he took a shot off his knee. He was immediately in some pain and he tried to stay on the bench, but ended up heading to the dressing room for good. No doubt the Pens hope he’s not too “rusty” on his return!
Tampa Bay vs New York Islanders
No Stamkos for Game 4, as he’s still on blood thinners. He’ll be back very soon once he can get off them. Who needs him, though, when you have Nikita Kucherov and Drou– Oh. The epic saga of Jonathan Drouin continues, as the young star went from contract holdout to having a whale of a postseason. He returned from that hit and setup up Kucherov for the game-tying goal. Still, though, that could’ve ended really badly; someone needs to get him and Johansson the memo reminding them to keep their damn head up when gaining the zone.
Stralman might make a return this series, but Head Coach Jon Cooper is trying his best not to jinx it. Stralman returned to the ice for an optional practice and was in a regular jersey, but you’ll likely have to see him in a regular practice before he makes an appearance in a game.
Meanwhile, Halak is getting close to returning, but the Isles aren’t rushing him back. Thomas Greiss has been great for them in the interim, so there’s no sense risking re-injury (something Dallas could learn from, re: Seguin).
Dallas vs St. Louis
I only managed to catch the last period of last night’s game, but from what I saw, St. Louis could’ve had two or three more goals, easy. This series has been more even that I would’ve thought. Dallas dominated scoring chances in Game 1, but St. Louis responded with an equally strong effort in Game 2. Last night they were fairly even, but all scoring chances are not equal. The blues had a lot of really good looks at the net. Kari Lehtonen was doing all he could to stop them from scoring a touchdown. Well, I guess he failed, but at least they didn’t manage to convert!
It’s no news that Seguin is still a ways away, but he’s started skating. Head Coach Lindy Ruff said he’d be at least four days away from a game once that happened, and if Dallas can steal at least one more game, we stand a chance at seeing Benneguin again in the playoffs. Eaves hurt his foot blocking a shot, so it’s a good sign that he’s skating too. He played a pretty good seven minutes or so at even-strength during Game 1 until his injury (81.25% CorsiFor%). While he might not be a critical part of the Stars’ core players, injuries add up. The Stars have Brett Ritchie or Curtis McKenzie as options for Game 4 on Friday night.
San Jose vs Nashville
Finally, either these two teams are getting really lucky, or they’re hiding their ailments really well. No other series is injury-free. The only player who’s missed time here is Mike Ribeiro, whose playing time has been on the decline lately anyways. The center obviously doesn’t have the confidence of his coach. Maybe this’ll be the kick in the pants he needs; Nashville isn’t exactly overflowing with centers, and San Jose doesn’t have that problem, which means they control the middle of the ice.
As always, thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter for more frequent injury updates and general hockey-related tomfoolery! @AjayDaCosta, in case that address bar is too far away.
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