James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Big Hurts

Monday, January 09, 2012

Monday’s Daily Dose columns are almost always a little more news-heavy since we need to catch up on a weekend full of action, but it seems like this past one was especially busy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t jam-packed with fantastic news (although there was a nice moment here and there). Nope, the overriding theme was one that’s been depressing us more or less since the first pucks dropped in October: injuries. There were a lot of them, and quite a few of those could have some serious damaging effects. Let me try to cover as many as I can, but there were enough that it will require a full Daily Dose:



Rarely can one discuss injuries in the NHL without hitting upon at least one example of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ bad luck. This weekend looks to prove costly for the Pens, as two crucial forwards – Jordan Staal and James Neal – can be added to the list of walking wounded.


As far as Staal is concerned, a knee injury looks like it will keep him out four to six weeks. He suffered it on a knee-to-knee hit from his former teammate Mike Rupp.


Losing Staal is rough, but it’s likely that the indirect impact (the loss of his defense and penalty-killing) will have a bigger fantasy impact than his direct influence, since he only has 21 points despite a nice 15 goals. The bigger loss could be Neal, whose foot injury doesn’t have quite the clear timeframe. The Penguins said that both players will be out “weeks, not days” so fantasy owners will be missing one of the league’s most prolific wingers (21 goals, 36 points and 165 shots in 40 games) in Neal.


Naturally these losses generated speculation that the Penguins might need to make a trade to patch things up. That might be the case, but if not, keep an eye on perpetual prospect Eric Tangradi and other minor leaguers who could get a bigger short-term role. It will be interesting to see how Evgeni Malkin rolls with these latest punches, for one thing.


Centers Derek Roy and Jordan Eberle might also safely fit under the “weeks, not days” category of injured players. That would seem to hurt Eberle owners more than Roy since he’s been more productive this season, but either way, these ailments create a pile-on effect for the Oilers and Sabres – two teams desperate for good news, rather than these dispiriting bits. Eberle will be re-evaluated today (most likely), so maybe the update will provide hope that isn’t here right now.



It was a bad week/weekend to be the groin muscle of an Anaheim Ducks goalie. The first groin-related injury befell backup Dan Ellis, who will be sidelined for about a month with that funny-till-it-happens-to-you ailment. Sunday brought an even more worrisome development as Jonas Hiller hurt his groin while making a save in the first period. Obviously less is known about Hiller’s problem since it just happened, but Bruce Boudreau said it’s not as bad as the issue for Ellis, so at least there’s that.


Those two injuries opened the door for a shocking NHL debut for Iiro Tarkki, who didn’t look great despite getting credited with a win. It remains to be seen if Tarkki or NHL borderliner Jeff Deslauriers will carry the mail for a while in Anaheim, but it might be tough for Bob Murray to justify giving up talent for goaltending when the team is so far out of the playoff picture.


Either way, it might be better just to stay nice and far from that ugly situation.



It’s unclear how bad Patrick Sharp’s “upper-body injury” might be, but any time you have a player as good as Sharp with a possible ailment, it’s a source of worry and worthy of note. Keep an eye out for updates on the impressive sniper.



Frequent injury sufferers also showed up in the news. Mike Green’s groin injury acted up, which is just another tablespoon full of salt in the wounds of his fantasy owners. (It might be wise to refer to a festering groin injury as “Green groin” from now on.)


Green wasn’t the only frequent trainer visitor to have a problem, though. Jeff Carter suffered a separated shoulder in the Blue Jackets’ ugly loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. (The severity isn’t really known just yet.) I’ll mention another constant injury victim in the next section because it’s worth individual attention, but Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Dustin Penner and Kari Lehtonen fought off various issues of varying severity.



The Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks renewed their hostilities and sure were things, well … hostile. The two teams shared knuckle sandwiches with each other throughout the game and while the Canucks earned a 4-3 win, the ugliest moment overshadowed the match.


In case you haven’t heard, Brad Marchand caught Sami Salo with a dangerously low hit and was booted from the game for his grievances. Marchand is expected to have a phone meeting with Brendan Shanahan & Co., which means that the maximum penalty he can receive is a five-game suspension.


Salo, meanwhile, suffered a concussion on the play so one can assume that he will be out for a while. If you’ve been around the fantasy hockey block, you know to expect injuries with Salo, but this might be one of his unluckiest moments. (OK, not as bad as busting his Achilles tendon playing floorball, but still.)


Click here for the full list of injuries, as it seems like there’s been an endless stream of them.



Like I said, it wasn’t all-bad around the league. Jarome Iginla scored the 500th goal of his career, Shane Doan waited 16 seasons to finally record his first hat trick and Corey Perry tallied a trio of his own. Teemu Selanne became the 13th player in NHL history to reach 650 goals as his still-strong season continues.

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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