Once again, the Philadelphia Flyers proved me wrong. In this case, I was delighted to be incorrect, though. Claude Giroux returned from his concussion just 11 days (and four missed games) from when Wayne Simmonds’ knee accidentally collided with his head.
Giroux didn’t really ease into his return, either. After trailing Michael Ryder during the first goal of the night by the Dallas Stars, the shifty center produced a comeback that was – in some ways – on par with Sidney Crosby’s November return to remember. Naturally, coming back from a concussion that sidelined him for less than two weeks wasn’t as dramatic as Crosby emerging from his near-one-year hibernation, but he was almost as good in fantasy terms.
Giroux tallied a goal and three assists for his four points while Crosby had two G’s and two A’s. Then again, Giroux did it against a better team as he bested the Dallas Stars while Crosby lit up the New York Islanders. (Comically enough, Richard Bachman is even a more experienced NHL goalie than Anders Nilsson, though if it’s by an admittedly thin margin.)
Naturally, the biggest concern is that Giroux will follow in the negative Crosby footsteps. By that, of course, I mean that it would be heartbreaking if Giroux also suffers from a concussion relapse. That lingering fear is why the Flyers should refrain from any “Told you so” type banter about his initially successful return. This is an incredibly quick turnaround, but I hope that my reluctance to get too excited about Giroux being 100 percent will be as incorrect as my educated guess about his return date.
Regardless of those worries, you absolutely need to reactivate Giroux if you haven’t already (I imagine you knew that already, but just in case). Hopefully you were staying tuned and got him in your lineup last night. If not, there are still bountiful rewards to reap – even if he will only have so many four-point games. (Giroux already has three this season, though, according to Versus.)
Some players just seem doomed. I almost wonder if they’ve left behind ex-girlfriends with voodoo dolls and serious grudges, because these guys seem to have the most random injuries.
Take Martin Havlat, for instance. The guy’s been a poor man’s Marian Gaborik for years. It seemed like he was becoming a bit more reliable recently (I remember gasping that he had at least 73 games played for three straight seasons), but if you’ve been around the fantasy block enough times, you know that guys like him aren’t worth it until the pickings get extra slim. (That’s my way of saying that I’ve gambled on him from time to time, even while simultaneously kicking myself.)
Havlat’s season already started in a worrisome way, as he didn’t debut with the San Jose Sharks until Oct. 21. He produced 15 points in 26 games, which is actually pretty solid big picture-wise considering an abysmal streak in which he scored just one assist in a nine-game span.
Patient Havlat owners are justified in cutting the cord now, though. Havlat suffered a partial hamstring tear while hopping off the boards as part of a line change. The “ball park” estimate of his recovery time is six to eight weeks, which means he very well could be out of commission until March. Perhaps you might find him worthy of your IR spot, but I’d honestly recommend that you leave that for a rainy day. It’s always frustrating to be forced to drop a player to make room for a more valuable IR guy. It’s your call. Either way, it’s a really dispiriting conversation.
Giroux wasn’t the only author of a shocking comeback on Wednesday night, though. Just two weeks after suffering facial fractures from a wayward puck, Martin St. Louis returned to action. Not only that, but the pint-sized winger scored one of Tampa Bay’s two goals as the Sharks shellacked the Lightning.
Guy Boucher said it would take a “small miracle” for St. Louis to return last night. It looks like the Bolts will need a big move to improve their frightening goaltending situation, though.
MIKE RICHARDS MIGHT BE BACK TONIGHT
No guarantees, naturally, but Mike Richards could be back in the Los Angeles Kings’ lineup for Darryl Sutter’s debut behind the bench. He was red-hot before that ill-timed concussion, so having him in action would go a long way in making the Kings’ new coach look like a “genius.” Keep an eye out for updates, though, because head injuries are rarely predictable.
Corey Crawford finally received a start for Chicago and won. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets the next start. The interesting wrinkle is that the Hawks won’t play again until the day after Christmas, so fatigue won’t be a determining factor in which goalie gets the nod … I can’t believe I’m typing this, but keep an eye on Jason LaBarbera. If Mike Smith is out for a while, he might snatch a few wins in goalie-friendly Phoenix … Viktor Stalberg has five points in his last three games, boosting him 20 overall. Keep an eye on him, especially if he continues to have favorable linemate opportunities … Jean-Sebastien Giguere continues to put up great individual numbers, but I’m reluctant to recommend him because of his No. 2/1b status and the mediocre team in front of him. (Then again, the Avs have been gold in Colorado lately, with seven consecutive home wins.)
Deryk Engelland will have a phone hearing today … The Koivu brothers look doubtful to return on Dec. 22 … Daniel Carcillo was placed on the IR … James Wisniewski is day-to-day with a lower-body injury … Stephane Robidas missed the Flyers game last night. He’s not a superstar, but he can be a valuable guy in leagues that have multiple categories – he tends to fill different parts of the stat sheets from night to night … Sam Gagner is dealing with what looks like a head injury. Great … Adrian Aucoin is on the injured reserve now. (Click here for the full injury list.)