Flu Season Sweeps Through Devils' Locker Room: David Clarkson Held from Practice

Nicholas SteblenkoContributor IIIDecember 22, 2011

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 23:  David Clarkson #23 of the New Jersey Devils plays the puck against Fedor Tyutin #51 of the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Prudential Center on November 23, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

According to Dave Hutchinson of The Star Ledger, New Jersey Devils' grinder David Clarkson missed this morning's practice with flu like symptoms.

This comes after the team's leading scorer Patrik Elias missed Tuesday night's crucial match up against the New York Rangers with the same issue, suggesting that it is becoming a problem in the Devils' locker room. It is unclear whether Clarkson will play on Friday night, but his absence against a physical Capitals team would be felt throughout the entire lineup.

The good news for New Jersey is that Elias did return to practice this morning, but it does not bode well for the surging Devils to begin losing players at this crucial point of the season.

Head Coach Peter DeBoer, who also had a fight with the bug himself, explained that the flu seemed to be traveling through the locker room a little bit the past few weeks.

``We had the flu running through the team a little bit,'' said DeBoer, who was also ill earlier in the week. `` (DeBoer)

The Devils have ample opportunity ahead of them to gain ground in the Eastern Conference. With contests against the slumping Capitals and the horrendous Hurricanes, the Devils have a chance to grab four points and stay in the race for the playoffs.

New Jersey should take care, however, not to succumb to an attitude of complacency, especially around the holiday season when so many players can lose their attention elsewhere. Whether it be spending time with family or planning travel arrangements to get home for Christmas, the players need to keep their focus on the season at hand as best as possible.

Otherwise, they could find themselves on the outside looking in during the new year.