A stroke of good luck? Neal and Adams expect to play Tuesday vs. Ottawa
The title would be misleading if black magic and bad X-rays weren't the last phenomena on Earth capable of reversing Pittsburgh's injury trend.
As it is, James Neal's initial diagnosis of recovering from a broken foot for "weeks, not days" turned out to be incorrect. A more conclusive MRI scan of the forward's foot revealed a bone bruise or "pre-existing condition," and Neal will be able to play as pain permits.
From the horse's mouth, Neal plans to play against Ottawa.
"I’m good to go tonight," Neal said.
Neal was originally thought to have a broken bone in his foot which would have required a month or more to heal.
As it turns out, MRIs are much more telling than X-rays. While the initial X-ray showed what appeared to be a break or crack, Neal's MRI showed an injury that could not worsen with play.
“The preliminary tests done after the game indicated a fracture in his navicular area, a tough bone in a tough place to heal,” Bylsma said. “So a further test, the MRI, was done (Monday) and showed that what he had was a preexisting condition, possibly having done it when he was a small kid.
It showed up as a crack on the X-ray, but the MRI showed it was not a break.
This is one of the few rays of hope in what has been a second consecutive season of torturous injury news for a battered Pittsburgh lineup.
Are you now prepared to rescind Sunday's hysterical guarantees that the Penguins would miss the playoffs?
Neal's foot injury was reported at the same time as the news that Jordan Staal was expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a torn MCL (which won't require surgery) and news that Craig Adams re-aggravated an old injury in Sunday's practice.
Their presence can't be understated. Neal leads the Penguins in goals (21), power-play goals (10) and shots on goal (165).
While nothing has changed on the Staal front, it was also announced Tuesday that Adams can play against Ottawa after sustaining what was initially called a "bad-looking knee injury."
Craig Adams, via Penguins Report:
Yeah, I feel good. I think I am going to play tonight, hopefully.
With Jordan Staal out, Craig Adams is the Penguins' best penalty-killing forward.
Officially, the Penguins have listed Neal and Adams as game-time decisions. Already down so many men, though, it's hard to imagine the Penguins won't play them if they say they're ready to go.
Hockey players being what they are, it's going to be hard to keep these two out of the lineup.
"I think everybody wants to play all the time [regardless of current injury swoon]," Adams said. "So sure, you feel a responsibility, but I think you want to contribute and you feel that responsibility whether you have a full lineup or not."
As for Neal:
"If it can't get any worse, then there's no reason why I can't play."
Adams and Neal are two of only six Penguins skaters to appear in all 40 games this season. A long overdue stroke of good luck should keep those streaks alive tonight against Ottawa.