The playoffs are said to be the time that separates the good from the great, more often it’s the time that divides the whole from the healing.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have gotten back the services of Tyler Kennedy and Jordan Leopold, but lost their top penalty killer, and second best faceoff man this post season in Jordan Staal. For a team that isn’t noted for its defensive prowess, this is a huge blow. Given that Staal has accumulated 15 playoff goals in his young career, his loss also robs the Penguins of some of their offensive finish.
The San Jose Sharks have a lamed Heatley in the lineup but his effectiveness is somewhat limited. Former captain Patrick Marleau is listed as probable, with flu-like symptoms. And both Wallin and Staubitz are listed with the dreaded “lower body injury”, although neither one are men who anyone expects to have any significant impact on the series.
The Canucks have four men injured. The only significant one is Willie Mitchell who as 3rd in TOIG during the regular season, not only do his lost shifts cost the Canucks his quality, they open the door for modestly talented players to fill in on the blueline and take plenty of stupid penalties, not that there’s anyone who has done that right? Ryan Johnson’s faceoff dominance will be missed, as will his willingness to block shots.
The Boston Bruins who got Marc Savard back in dramatic fashion for game one, have a parade of other “S” guys going through the trainers hands. Sobotka missed some shifts with an upper body injury during the first tilt with the Flyers, but is expected to play in game two. Mark Stuart who is dealing with his third stint on the injured list this season brings size, agility and aggression to the Bruins blueline and may make it back on the ice for late games in the series should it stretch that long is sorely missed for his experience. Boychuck, Hunwick and Mcquaid combine to have played one more NHL playoff game than Mark Stuart and more than forty less regular season games. Adding to the lack of experience in the defensive unit is the loss of Seidenberg who was listed as being out six to eight weeks after having forearm tendons sliced by a skate. Marco Sturm rounds out the injuries, he was only the leading goal scorer in the regular season this year and in the 07-08 season. Sturm tore his knee to ribbons in his first shift against the Flyers.
Markov is out, again, for the Hab’s with an injured knee having missed 35 regular season games due to an ankle injury. Despite the injures he still put up 34 points during the regular season and is a big part of the teams power play. Former divisional rival Jaroslav Spacek is out with an “illness”, and Mara has been out of the lineup for months. They also experienced a scare with Marc-Andre Bergeron during Sunday’s game when the Penguins Adams rammed him into the boards from behind.
The Blackhawks have health in plenty, the only injury is Johnsson who has been out with a concussion since March.
Like the team that beat them for the division title for the first time in years, the Wings are reasonably healthy. Eaves will miss game two of the semi-final series with the Sharks, and Maltby has been off the ice since February and isn’t expected back before fall.
Having had injuries reduce their depth in goal to something not far from a summer league roller hockey teams, they lost a large chunk of their offensive punch with Carter and Gagne going down in the second to last game of the first round, the team gutted out the rest of the series and found four goals in game 1 against the Bruins but gave up five. The team will have to rely even more on Richards & Pronger to work their respective magics to keep them running in games against the Bruins. Boucher will have to stand on his head and play to the level that was expected when he was drafted as well.