NHL Injuries That Will Have the Greatest Effect on the Postseason
If you listen to NHL coaches on the subject of injuries, they start to sound a lot like their brethren in the NFL.
Once a player gets hurt, coaches tend to ignore players who are not able to suit up and play. At least when it comes to acknowledging an injury and its significance with the media.
But injuries are a fact of life in the NHL. General managers must address their rosters and coaches must figure out how they are going to change their lineup and adjust their game plan.
Here's a look at the injuries that will have the greatest impact on the postseason. Teams that are likely to miss the playoffs are not included.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby's jaw was damaged when he was hit by a deflected shot in late March (video above).
Crosby is likely to be back by the postseason since there has been no indication that he suffered a concussion when the puck struck him in the face and punished his jaw. However, there is no official timetable for his return.
Crosby may not have be at his best in the early playoff games. If he can get in two or three warm-up games prior to the playoffs, Crosby should be fine.
However, if he returns for the playoffs, he will need at least a couple of games before he is playing dominant hockey once again. Prior to the injury, Crosby was the leading candidate for the Hart Trophy. The Penguins need him at his best if they are going to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup.
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron is out with a concussion for the fourth time in his career.
Bergeron did not appear to get hit hard by Colin Greening of the Ottawa Senators, but that may not be the telling issue since he has dealt with this issue previously.
The Bruins are not issuing updates on Bergeron's condition, although Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe gave one favorable report about Bergeron's progress.
Bergeron is the Bruins' best all-around player. If he is not in the lineup for the playoffs, Boston's chances of having a long run will be limited.
Head coach Claude Julien has switched his lines around since the injury, and the Bruins have been struggling to find offensive consistency.
Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene, Los Angeles Kings
The defending Stanley Cup champions have been dealing with blue-line injuries all season.
Willie Mitchell's knee injury will prevent him from returning for the playoffs. Matt Greene's injured back, however, should not stop him from returning before the end of the season, meaning that he will be a playoff factor.
The Kings acquired Robyn Regehr from the Buffalo Sabres prior to the trade deadline largely as a result of the Mitchell and Greene injuries.
The Kings are not as strong defensively as they were last year, but they are a more productive offensive team.
Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild
As a result of a shoulder injury required surgery, Dany Heatley will not play again this season.
This is a cruel blow for the Minnesota Wild, who have played solid hockey since the end of February. Heatley had 11 goals and 10 assists before injuring his shoulder
The Wild will need to rely on their depth to make up for the loss of Heatley and his ability to get rid of the puck quickly and score dirty goals.
Alexei Emelin, Montreal Canadiens
Alexei Emelin tried to chop down the wrong tree when he went after Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins.
Emelin launched himself at Lucic April 6 and went down in a heap after Lucic braced for the hit. Emelin had to be helped off the Bell Centre ice and head coach Michel Therrien held his breath, hoping that Emelin would be back quickly.
Unfortunately for Therrien and the Canadiens, Emelin tore ligaments in his left knee and will be out for the rest of the year.
The Canadiens defense had been thinned after Raphael Diaz suffered a concussion, so that unit is now under significant pressure as the season heads down the home stretch. Diaz is skating again in practice, but there is no timetable for his return.
J.T. Miller and Derek Dorsett, New York Rangers
J.T. Miller has been sent to play with Connecticut in the American Hockey League as he rehabs from his wrist injury. The Rangers will probably recall Miller if they make the playoffs, but he is not likely to be back prior to the postseason.
Dorsett was acquired by the Rangers from the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to the trade deadline. Dorsett has a fractured clavicle, but he could be back in the lineup before the end of the regular season.
Marc Staal, New York Rangers
The Rangers have been at a serious disadvantage since Marc Staal took a slap shot in the head and suffered damage to his eye in early March.
Staal has been out ever since and while he has has started skating again, there is no timetable for his return.
Staal's return would give the Rangers' defense crew much more credibility during the postseason.
Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators have been challenged by a litany of injuries this season.
Jason Spezza has been out since late January with a back injury. While there was talk of him returning by this time in the schedule, there is nothing definitive about his rehab or his return to the ice.
This is a major blow for the Senators. However, Milan Michalek should return to the lineup shortly, despite a knee injury, and that will give their offense much more productivity.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
Erik Karlsson saw his season wrecked when his Achilles tendon was sliced by Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins February 13.
Karlsson, Norris Trophy winner and perhaps the best offensive defenseman in the league, was expected to be out until next season.
However, Karlsson has started skating again and he could return to the lineup if the Senators believe he is completely healed from the injury.
James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins
James Neal, who suffered a concussion, could be back in the lineup by April 17, when the Penguins take on the Montreal Canadiens.
However, there are no guarantees when it comes to a concussion. The Penguins would probably be happy if Neal is back in the lineup at full strength by the start of the playoffs.
Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues
Ken Hitchcock was thrilled with his goaltending last year when Brian Elliott gave Jaroslav Halak excellent support and the Blues had an excellent 1-2 punch in the net.
Elliott has struggled much of the season and Halak is out with a groin injury. He is likely to be back by the end of the regular season, but he may not be at his best during the playoffs.
If he has not recovered completely, it seems unlikely that the Blues will make a long run in the playoffs.
David Booth and Manny Malhotra, Vancouver Canucks
David Booth, with an injured ankle, and Manny Malhotra, who suffered an undisclosed injury, are both almost certainly out for the rest of the year.
Booth had surgery in March and that all but rules him out for the regular season and playoffs, unless the Vancouver Canucks can make a long run.
Malhotra did not necessarily agree with the team's position, but the team's best faceoff specialist and penalty killer will not play again this year.