*Note* The pre-playoffs injury updates were originally being done in the order in which teams clinched. Since the rest of them decided to make my life hard and all clinch at the same time, updates are now being done in the order I find most amusing.
Welcome to the national capital edition of the pre-playoffs injury update. First, a bit of trivia. Ottawa (not Toronto) is the capital of Canada. Yes, it’s true. Go ahead and question everything you thought you knew. Next, it may also interest you to know that Washington DC is not a state. Having gotten those important little tidbits of information out of the way*, let’s look at how these two teams are shaping up headed into the playoffs.
* There are people out there that regularly get these two facts wrong. Yes, really.
First playoff game: April 12th vs the New York Rangers
Peter Regin (C/LW): Out since 12/21/11 - shoulder
Peter Regin is the Pascal Leclaire of forwards. This guy can’t stay healthy. He had shoulder surgery March of last year, reinjured the shoulder in the preseason, came back for five games, injured it again, came back for five more games, and then finally gave up and had more surgery. He’s out until next season. This is a non-issue for the Sens – they’re very much used to playing without him. In case you’d forgotten, Regin scored two goals in his ten games this year, which is only one less than in all of 2010-11. Ouch.
Chris Neil (RW/LW): Out since 4/6/12 – upper body
Neil barreled awkwardly into the boards in practice Friday (as opposed to barreling awkwardly into another player, which is kind of his thing) and injured his something-or-other. He missed the final game of the season in New Jersey, but skated today and according to Paul MacLean (and Neil himself) he’s going to be ready for game 1 against the Rangers. He left practice after only 15 minutes, but I wouldn’t read too much into that – he skated by himself before the rest of the team and the game isn’t until Thursday.
For a team that was supposed to finish near the bottom of the league, the Sens are in pretty good shape at this point. If their big names stay healthy they may sneak past their usual first-round flop. Probably not, but I suppose it’s about as possible as them making is as far as they have so far.
First playoff game: April 12th vs the Boston Bruins
John Erskine (D): Out since 2/13 – Lower body
Eriskine is either out, scratched or both. More likely out fading gracefully into a scratch. His ‘lower body’ was some sort of minor knee procedure (and a scope is about the only minor knee procedure I can think of). He’s practicing with the team, so this injury seems to have morphed into a non-injury. It’s probably safe to assume he’s available if the Caps need him.
Michal Neuvirth (G): Out since 4/5 – Leg
While it’s true that goalies can contort in a variety of unreal ways, Neuvirth discovered Thursday against Florida that none of those contortions apply when Marco Sturm is sitting on your leg. Neuvirth toppled backwards in an awkward way with Sturm’s butt firmly planted on his outstretched left leg, and had to be helped off the ice. Dale Hunter says it’s not bad and speculation is that he may be available for the playoffs, but he only skated for a few minutes today and was said to have looked uncomfortable. Feel free to ignore all of that and focus on the fact that the Caps have recalled Dany Sabourin from the AHL. HINT HINT.
Tom Poti (D): Out since 1/13/2011 – Groin
Tom Poti’s groin has been utter garbage since approximately forever. He missed all of this season, part of last season, and in fact may never play again. In other words, Tom Poti is the Peter Regin of Washington. They’re used to playing without him, so his absence is a non-issue at this point.
Tomas Vokoun (G): Out since 3/30 – Groin
Vokoun has tried to come back a couple of times from this groin strain with less-than-wonderful results. In late March he pronounced himself ready to play, then after less than one full game he was back to being injured. He’s just now getting ready to start skating on his own, but I wouldn’t look for him to be ready to play any time soon. Vokoun is learning the hard way that you can’t bully these injuries into submission – often time is the only thing that tames an angry groin. There’s no telling if he’ll be back for any part of the playoffs.
Rumour has it that in order to win hockey games, you have to have a goalie. This is turning out to be problematic for the Caps who are heading into the post-season with Braden Holtby (who has played in approximately 20 NHL games) and Dany Sabourin (who hasn’t played in the NHL in approximately forever) in nets. The good news is Holtby looked incredibly good Saturday night in the Caps’ 4-1 victory over the Rangers. The bad news is the Rangers were playing like they were asleep, and the Bruins aren’t going to be as obliging when the first round starts on Thursday.