Monday Injury Update: Lecavalier, Toews, Backstrom
(3/26/12) And... we're back! It's been a hectic time here the last while as the Fantasy Hockey Standard team spent some time partying in Vegas last week, and the last few days have been spent finishing the Playoff Guide, but we're now back in full swing. Let's get caught up on the latest injuries.
Starting with some good news, Vincent Lecavalier is close to returning from a broken hand which has cost him the last 17 games. He won't go tonight, but his owners might be able to use him for the final week of the season.
And another star inching closer is Caps forward Nicklas Backstrom (concussion). He took part in practice today for the first time since Jan. 6, but it seems 50-50 at best that he'll be ready by playoff time (assuming the Caps even get in). He has yet to be cleared for contact.
For the Sharks, Ryane Clowe was hit in the head with a puck Saturday and is listed as questionable for tonight's game. Whether or not he suits up should tell us a lot about his status.
Another player to watch for tonight is Avs defenseman Erik Johnson. He's missed three games with back spasms and is questionable against San Jose.
In Chicago, the big news is that Jonathan Toews (concussion) is still not cleared for contact. He is skating and practicing, but as the season winds down we have to wonder about his status for the playoffs. Without him, the Hawks have played well lately, but we just can't see them making a run without their leader. If you own Toews in your regular season league and are fighting for a championship, it's probably time to pull the plug in favor of a player who can still help. Toews' teammates Marcus Kruger and Steve Montador are also sidelined with concussion symptoms.
And it just continues... Another guy dealing with a conky is Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski. He's apparently making slow progress, but he did not travel with the team today. With only two weeks left in the season, he might be shut down. Same goes for the Oilers' Taylor Hall, who continues to recover from a head injury.
Red Wings fans can finally exhale as Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk are back in action just in time for the playoffs. Lidstrom's minutes were a little bit light in his return Saturday, and Datsyuk has just one goal in four games coming off minor knee surgery, but we fully expect the duo to be at full speed come playoff time. However, while the skaters are getting healthy, goaltending could become the Wings' Achilles heal. Jimmy Howard is still bothered by a groin strain that's been acting up the last month, and back-up Joey Macdonald is dealing with back spasms. Howard is expected out until at least Friday, but it's becoming a race against the clock to get healthy for the second season.
In Ottawa, Craig Anderson is back between the pipes after his kitchen accident, but his back-up Ben Bishop went down Saturday with a knee injury. With the Sens fading and suddenly fighting for the playoff lives, they don't have the luxury of easing Anderson back into the line-up anyway.
Another team with goaltending issues is Minnesota, as Niklas Backstrom has missed two games with a groin strain and is listed as questionable for Tuesday.
For the Sabres, Patrick Kaleta and Nathan Gerbe are nursing upper-body injuries that have had them out of the line-up a few games. Both are are listed as questionable for Tuesday, although they're each now cleared for contact and could play against the Caps in a game with huge playoff implications.
For the Rangers, Mats Zuccarello broke his wrist Mar. 23 and is out indefinitely. He's set to undergo surgery today, and he won't be back before the end of the regular season.
And we now know Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszeros is out six-to-eight weeks following back surgery. We'll be scratching him from the playoff list in the next edition.
Radim Vrbata has missed two games with a lower-body injury, and he's questionable to go Thursday.
And we have a couple of minor notes from last night's action, as Oilers defenseman Theo Peckham went hard into the boards and suffered a concussion. He's not likely in your lineup other than as an enforcer, but it looks like he'll be out at least a few games. And Preds' forward Jordin Tootoo suffered an upper-body injury during a fight with Brandon Bollig. Tootoo is listed as day-to-day.
Finally, Pens veteran Steve Sullivan left last night's game with a lower-body injury. We had high hopes for him as a playoff sleeper, but we also wrote that it's a miracle he's held up this long. Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma called it "short-term," so hopefully Sullivan can heal up and return for the postseason.
That's all for now. Good luck over the final two weeks!