James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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On the comeback trail?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


The Daily Dose’s five days per week nature forces an awkward relationship with some of the NHL’s “persistent” stories. I put persistent in glaring, maybe-even-bitter quotation marks because a lot of those stories that won’t go away … well, won’t go away. Aside from the mania that was actually mostly missing this year, the great delight of the trade deadline came in pulling the plug on the vegetative stories - particularly the ones revolving around Rick Nash being traded.

 

Still, the DD can’t just look the other way when a player of seismic importance enjoys a big setback or breakthrough - even if it feels like this particular fellow has thrown in enough plot twists and 180’s that he might as well be the Andy Kaufman of injury recovery.

 

In case you missed update five bajillion, Sidney Crosby made what seems like a big step in his seemingly perpetual recovery this week. Word surfaced on Tuesday that he was cleared for contact in practice and absorbed a reasonable amount of it. Crosby admitted that in-practice content just cannot hold a candle to in-game abuse, but he also indicated that the symptoms from his “soft-tissue” neck issues and/or concussion(s) seem to have cleared up. (Perhaps I should throw in a “for now” qualifier?)


CROSBY COMEBACK?

 

Negativity/skepticism aside, I cannot deny a prospect that must be leaving fantasy owners salivating: getting Crosby back – or heavens forbid, picking him up – right around the time that the roto-playoffs kick in. I highly HIGHLY highly doubt that you’re in a league where everyone is so fed up with the start-stop nature of his injury situation that he’s on waivers, but if you have the dumb luck to pick him up and stash him on your IR slot, do it.

 

Switching back to more realistic scenarios, there’s word that Crosby could be back as soon as Sunday. Such indications do carry the “Fool me once …” feel to them, but aside from cumulative rotisserie leagues, that would obviously give him a chance to make a big impact on just about every stretch run as long as his owner is semi-competitive.

 

Sure, one month of Crosby won’t justify the lofty position he was drafted in almost any league, but owners might quibble a bit less – and brag a lot more – if he helps them win a championship or two.

 

Of course, he could just be inadvertently messing with us again.


INJURIES GALORE

 

Hopefully that burst of reluctant optimism didn’t fill you too full with the warm-and-fuzzies. Sadly, the majority of the bigger news bits from Tuesday were injury-related and almost all of them were pretty negative to potentially catastrophic.


THROWN FOR LUPUL

 

Starting off in Toronto, surprise sensation Joffrey Lupul appeared to injure his right wrist thanks to a hard hit by David Krejci (not a misprint). It’s likely that we’ll hear more about Lupul’s condition soon – check Rotoworld for updates – but just about every indication is that he won’t play for the Maple Leafs against the Penguins in Pittsburgh tonight. That’s a bummer to fantasy owners and Toronto fans alike.


GONE GARON

 

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s shaky playoff hopes took a blow as Mathieu Garon seems to be the latest victim of being an NHL goalie. Much like Miikka Kiprusoff and Tuukka Rask, Garon seemed to tweak something while making a save, giving way for Dwayne Roloson. Maybe Roloson will eventually seize what looks to be his last chance to make a difference on this level, but so far, not so good.


INJURY SNIPES

 

Let’s keep this manageable by handling the rest of the injuries - including ones on a comparable scale – in quicker fashion … Matt Duchene needed help off the ice after tweaking his right ankle in the Colorado Avalanche’s 7-1 blowout win against the Minnesota Wild ... The Philadelphia Flyers squeaked out a win against the Detroit Red Wings on a night when Mark Howe’s number was retired, but not before two potentially costly injuries. Jaromir Jagr injured his hip while Jakub Voracek took an absolutely brutal hit from Niklas Kronwall. Further updates are expected to come sometime today … Brandon Dubinsky appeared to hurt his hand while fighting Ryan Carter on Tuesday. The useful forward certainly hasn’t had an easy time attempting to follow up a breakthrough (and maybe a bit fluky) 2010-11 season, but taking an unnecessary injury in an irrelevant fight just makes things that much worse … There was some bright injury news from the New Jersey Devils-New York Rangers game, however. Ryan Callahan returned from his foot issues while Zach Parise didn’t miss a beat despite what seemed like a worrisome situation with his hand. Andy Greene also played after dealing with back spasms … It sounds like Rask will be out closer to six weeks than four while Nathan Horton hasn’t began skating yet as he hopes to recover from a concussion. (Click here for the full injury list.)


QUICK HITS

 

Eric Staal’s Hurricanes-record of consecutive games with a point extended to 12, with seven goals and 21 points … Milan Michalek had a hat trick and an assist. Fantasy owners don’t really care that two of those tallies were empty-netters and that almost all of it seemingly came in garbage time … The one bright more for Tampa Bay is that with last night’s goal, Steve Stamkos has a stunning 48 on the season … Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron generated two goals apiece while Caron also added a helper … Andy McDonald scored twice to help the St. Louis Blues take a brief lead in the Central Division ... Mike Ribeiro scored two goals and an assist to help the Dallas Stars strengthen their lead in the Pacific … Jamie McGinn is red-hot right now, with two goals and two assists in his last duo of contests, including three from last night. McGinn might just be a great fit in his new home in Colorado.



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