As teams get busy clinching playoff berths, I get busy running down their injuries and what they’ll mean in the post-season. Detroit and Nashville are both in pretty solid shape headed into the playoffs, which is great news because it allows everyone more time to talk about Shea Weber’s insane beard and not a bunch of strained groins.
Detroit Red Wings
Last regular season game: April 7th against the Blackhawks
Patrick Eaves (RW): Out since 11/27/11 – Broken jaw/concussion
Patrick Eaves took a slapshot to the jaw back in November, and what was initially thought to be a six to eight week recovery turned out to be the rest of the season. He had surgery to correct his jaw (and I wrote about that), but post-concussive symptoms continue to be a problem. He’s skating on his own and doing (very) light workouts, but there’s little to no chance he’ll be back for this year.
Darren Helm (C): Out since 3/19 – Knee
Helm sprained his left MCL (medial collateral ligament) in a collision with Dominic Moore in a mid-March game against the Sharks. He’s supposed to be out four to six weeks, which would have him back in time for the playoffs. A quick refresher – the MCL is the ligament that connects your femur to your tibia (your upper leg to your lower leg) on the inside of the knee joint, and keeps that sucker from bending in too far. A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament. If Helm’s sprain isn’t major (ie. not a giant tear) then it’s just a matter of time/rest/therapy for the swelling to go down and the sprain to heal. We can probably expect to see him back if this is as minor as it seems, and there’s been no talk of a surgical repair so that’s likely a safe bet.
Joey MacDonald (G): Out since 3/14 – Back
MacDonald had surgery to take care of a bulging disc in 2006, and like many back injuries this one is a jerk and isn’t done with him yet. He’s been out since mid-March with back/sciatic pain, meaning there’s something in his back pressing on something it has no business pressing on. The sciatic nerves are big-ass nerves that run down either leg and take care of all kinds of serious business (supplying a bunch of muscles and providing feeling in a few places). An MRI this time luckily showed there’s no reoccurrence of a disc bulge, but there is some scar tissue that’s the likely culprit. This isn’t expected to be an immediate surgical fix, and MacDonald has had a steroid shot, with one or two more being possibilities if needed. Steroids are a win/lose proposition – they take care of inflammation, but there’s some discussion amongst the smarty-pantses of the medical world about whether repeated injections can weaken cartilage, tendons and bones. Most docs won’t do them more than every three to four months, but then most docs aren’t working on NHL players. MacDonald is hoping to be back for the playoffs, but back injuries are like concussions in that they don’t behave in any sort of predictable way. If his shot(s) work he could be back, or this might be it for his season.
I’ll fully admit that I was hoping the Wings would clinch later rather than sooner because they had approximately 275 guys* injured just a few weeks ago. Nicklas Lidstrom has a bone bruise on his ankle, Jimmy Howard had a groin issue (it takes literally everything within my power not to call these ‘groiners’), Franzen had an ouchy back, Ericsson fractured his wrist, and 271 other guys* had stuff on the go as well. As of right now, things are looking much, much better.
* Number may not be entirely accurate.
Last regular season game: April 7th against the Avalanche
Brian McGrattan (RW or D or whatever): Out since 2/4 – upper body. Sort of. Not really. Maybe.
The curious case of Brian McGrattan involves a cut over his left eye from a fight with Ryan Reaves. The cut happened February 4th, and then McGrattan was out and briefly on injured reserve. He was back practicing with the team in a variety of positions in early March, but still hasn’t played a game and is consistently listed as a scratch. Is he still injured? Doesn’t seem to be. Will he play in the post-season? I guess he could. Does it matter? He could at least contribute some pretty significant beardability to this team, but I’m not sure that translates into much more than the appreciation of lumberjacks and hipsters everywhere.
The upshot: Nashville is pretty healthy, and moderately hairy. Expect the hairiness situation to develop further.