Pre-playoff injury updates were originally being written in the order in which teams clinched. Since everybody clinched at once over the weekend, they’re now based on which combinations amuse me the most. Next up: Florida and Phoenix. A team that won a terrible division and a team that won a slightly less terrible but still pretty awful division.
First playoff game: April 12th vs the Chicago Blackhawks
Uh, so… Here’s the thing. Phoenix doesn’t have any injured players. Adrian Aucoin was out for a bit with a minor lower body thing (obviously I pride myself on accuracy and attention to detail), but he’s good to go now. The only missing piece is Kurt Sauer, and there’s nothing new to report since I wrote this in my pre-season injury review:
Kurt Sauer D – Concussion: A neck injury in a 2009 pre-season game has left Sauer with severe ongoing post-concussive symptoms. Supposedly he’s been improving using Brainwave Optimization Technology, something I’ve never heard of, and can’t find in any legitimate scientific journals. It’s said to use audio feedback to balance uneven brain activity. Yeah. Okay. Hey, I hope it works for him. Just to be on the safe side, don’t place any bets on seeing him back on the ice this season.
Poor Kurt Sauer. He’s not listed on the Coyotes roster any more, and that (although realistic) is kind of sad.
First playoff game: April 13th vs the New Jersey Devils
Matt Bradley (RW): Out since 2/23 – Concussion
Bradley gave himself a concussion when he accidentally checked the stanchion instead of George Parros in late February. Kevin Dineen has said that his injury isn’t short term, and although he’s been doing light workouts it doesn’t look like he’s progressing to the point of being able to play again this season.
Jack Skille (RW): Out since 3/11 – Shoulder
Skille is also done for the season, having just had shoulder surgery. He separated his shoulder in December, and at one point described it as “a mess”. This was a correct assessment. He’s missed a total of 20 games since then, and in March he had a surgical repair. Separation repairs generally involve craziness like moving ligaments or muscles around and holding things together with screws or pins, and that’s not the sort of thing one can rehab within weeks.
Worth mentioning: Tomas Fleischmann has a history of clots in his legs and lungs that require him to be on blood thinners. To put it in perspective, that’s the sort of thing that can kill you. He also leads the Panthers in goals and points, and hasn’t missed a game this season. What a guy. Somebody give that man the Masterton.
Looking at the teams Phoenix and Florida will meet in the first round, it’s clear Phoenix has the better odds of making it out of April alive. They’re at full strength and facing a Chicago squad that’s missing several key players, although Toews is making louder and louder noises about being ready to go on Thursday.
Florida is only missing two guys, but I’m not sure that even matters when you’ve got a 94 point team with a -24 GD facing a 102 point team with Ilya Kovalchuk. I’ve seen him play in person a few times. He’s terrifying. Just FYI. I’m not purposefully raining on Florida’s parade, I’m just pointing out some basic facts. SORRY. Jeez.