Feb 18, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The injury bug was expected to have a bigger bite this year in the NHL than usual. The Hurricanes had hoped to avoid the ill-effects of losing players early, but through 12 games, the bites are starting to show.
The team is without defensemen Tim Gleason and Joni Pitkanen who have each been put on injured reserve, retroactive to the New Jersey game Feb. 12, out with ‘lower body’ concerns. Jeff Skinner is also out an ‘upper body’ issue and did not make the trip to Montreal for Monday's game.
In Skinner’s case, his situation has little to do with the lockout, but after taking a big hit from Toronto’s Mark Fraser, the injury brings up another concern. Head coach Kirk Muller could not confirm that it was concussion related but said that Skinner is day-to-day and will be evaluated after the Montreal game.
Skinner’s absence will create a ripple effect throughout the forward ranks. Jussi Jokinen has been centering the third line will more than likely move up to Skinner's spot on the wing on with Jordan Staal and Patrick Dwyer. The team has had to dip to Charlotte once more and have called up Riley Nash and Jeremy Welsh to fill Pitkanen and Gleason's spots.
Around the league, it is the injuries that occur from the lockout that teams are trying to cope with. Without a normal training camp most players were left on their own to train. With no exhibition games, and a “camp” schedule that was more like a week-long practice, there are sure to be several, strains, pulls and bumps that players might not be able to fight through.
That is where the Hurricanes are counting on the players in the organization that played together would be able to step up. Michal Jordan was called up from Charlotte to make his NHL debut against Toronto and instead of pairing him with a veteran like Jay Harrison, Muller turned to his partner for the first half of the AHL season in Bobby Sanguinetti. The pairing was efficient and effective against the Leafs in the team’s 3-1 victory last Thursday.
Muller wants the players to make the most of the injury openings saying, “The key is that when (an injury) comes and gets a guy an opportunity. You can’t come in and say ‘well I’m nervous' or this and that, you have to jump in and get the job done.
“That’s 'the old door is open', take advantage of it,'” Muller continued.
The thought going into the season was that the bigger sized players would have the toughest time staying out of the trainer’s room. Soft tissue or knee injuries for the bigger players on the ice, with all the stopping and starting was expected to see an increase. It is not easy to just be dropped into a collision sport and come away unscathed.
Add into the mix that some players were able to go over-seas or play in the AHL, a group of skaters would have an advantage over the players that had to keep themselves in shape.
No team will get any sympathy for man-games lost to injury this year, every organization will just try to deal with it. Dealing with it for the Canes has been no problem for one game, the problem that the organization hopes to avoid is dealing with more bodies in the training room than on the ice as the season moves on.