Saturday, March. 17, 2007
by Scott Morrison
Each week, Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Morrison takes you behind Saturday night's Satellite Hotstove discussions.
With the playoffs just three weeks away - with several teams fighting for their playoff lives in the East and a dozen or so others jockeying for seeding position - all eyes are not just on the scoreboard these days, but also on the infirmary door.
Indeed, there have been no shortage of big-name players sidelined - Nashville's Peter Forsberg and Dallas' Brendan Morrow both returned Saturday night - with several other players who will be key to either playoff hopes or positioning on the sidelines.
Here is an update from medical rooms, which also key information for poolies:
Detroit: Big winger Todd Bertuzzi is expected back later in the week ahead, possibly the 22nd against Columbus or next Saturday against St. Louis. Bertuzzi had hoped to travel west with the Wings, but coach Mike Babcock didn't think a six-hour flight would help a player with a bad back. Besides, returning to a circus in Vancouver Saturday wouldn't have been good for the head. Meantime, winger Henrik Zetterberg, who also has had back problems, is looking at a March 30 return.
Carolina: Goaltender Cam Ward, who had his knee deeply sliced open for 11 stitches a week ago, has skated and taken shots the past couple of days, but has not done any deep knee bends or butterflies. The Hurricanes have four days off and will re-evaluate Ward before they play again Thursday.
New York Rangers: Martin Straka was lost Saturday night with a lower body injury and is listed as day to day. Brendan Shanahan, out with a concussion since Feb. 17, requires at least one full-contact practice before returning, which means he likely won't play until Wednesday at the earliest. The Rangers signed defenceman Jason Strudwick, who had been playing in Lugano. He needs to clear waivers before he can join the club.
New York Islanders: They were without goaltender Rick DiPietro, who has a concussion and sore neck, again Saturday and got smoked by Florida. He apparently might be able to play Tuesday, but is most likely targeted for Thursday.
Nashville: Forsberg returned Saturday to play on a line with Paul Kariya and Alex Radulov. Meantime, Steve Sullivan (back), Martin Erat (knee), Scott Hartnell (foot) and Scott Nichol (thumb) aren't expected back much before the final few games of the regular season, which could be problematic for team cohesiveness heading into the playoffs. The timing isn't great, but better late than never.
Anaheim: Chris Pronger, out with a broken toe, is expected to skate either Monday or Tuesday. He could be back for Friday.
Dallas: Morrow, who missed 33 games with a wrist injury, returned to play on a line with Mike Modano and Ladislav Nagy. Defenceman Mattias Norstrom (knee) is day to day, while Eric Lindros is off skates now because of a groin injury and might not be back until the end of the regular season.
OTHER STUFF: Rangers winger Ryan Hollweg has said he doesn't want to press charges against Chris Simon for the stick assault last week, but the Nassau State District Attorney's office hasn't decided if it will still proceed. That decision is expected Monday. So far, the DA hasn't contacted either the Islanders or Simon, who was suspended a minimum 25 games by the NHL ... The NHL and the IIHF are meeting in Zurich on Wednesday with the hopes of reaching a new transfer agreement, which will involve all federations, including the Russians. It's believed the deal, if it comes to pass, will be for four years ... The NHLPA will have another conference call this week. This time it is Monday, at which time the executive committee will recommend one lawyer to the executive board to handle all dealings with suspended executive director Ted Saskin and Ken Kim. The players will vote on whether to retain this lawyer and will discuss how to proceed.
- Scott Morrison, the recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fame's 2006 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, has been covering hockey for 25 years. The Toronto native began his career at the Toronto Sun in 1979. After spending more than 11 years as a hockey writer and columnist at the paper, Morrison became Sports Editor in 1991 and led the section to being named one of North America's top-ten sports sections in 1999 - the first sports section in Canada to receive the AP Sports Editors North American Award. Scott, a former two-term president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, joined Rogers Sportsnet in 2001 as Managing Editor, Hockey, and is currently both a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada and a columnist for CBC.ca.