Saturday Injury Update: Nicklas Backstrom, Byfuglien, Andy McDonald, Timonen, Bieksa
(3/31/12) The last day of March brings with it both good and bad injury news. First, Nicklas Backstrom owners rejoice! The Capitals' second best player is scheduled to play on Saturday and, with the team scrambling to hold onto the final playoff spot in the East, his offensive presence could be the key that locks down a WAS postseason appearance. Backstrom is the only Capital player above the point/game mark (42 points/38 games), but he's been out since January 3rd thanks to a Rene Bourque elbow to the head. Backstrom practiced alongside Ovechkin and Johansson prior to the game.
The St. Louis Blues are basically back up to full strength. Saturday, both Andy McDonald (shoulder) and Matt D'Agostini (concussion) will return to action. D'Agostini has been out since the beginning of February, while McDonald was on fire after returning from a concussion about 20 games ago, but then suffered a shoulder injury that has held him out since March 15th. McDonald is a surefire sleeper for the playoffs; he's played only a 5th of the season, but is one of the Blues' best offensive players.
The Winnipeg Free Press is reporting that Dustin Byfuglien has been playing with a "deep bone bruise" that may actually be a break. The Jets are not revealing the location of the ailment, but Byfuglien may be given some time off - which could actually translate into the end of his season. With the Jets fighting for their playoff lives, we speculate Byfuglien continues to dress, but the moment the team is eliminated, Byfuglien will likely sit out. Fantasy GMs should watch this situation carefully and develop a contingency plan.
In Philadelphia, Kimmo Timonen (UBI) is expected to play Saturday, while Ilya Bryzgalov (foot) is improving but is not likely to play this weekend.
Kevin Bieksa (VAN - D) did not play on Friday due to an undisclosed injury, while Aaron Rome is out with a knee injury and is not expected back until early April. Andrew Alberts and Chris Tanev are both dressing for Vancouver while the Canucks' defense recovers. Keith Ballard (concussion) remains out, although he is skating again.
Mikael Samulesson did play on Friday, despite being banged up. He was minus-1 with 12 minutes of ice time in the Panthers loss to CLB.
Jeff Carter (ankle) was reportedly wearing a walking boot on Friday. His status is unclear; he could be back this weekend. Watch the pregame warmups to get the final word.
Adam McQuaid (BOS - D) does not have a concussion, although his left eye is swollen shut after Jason Chimera took his head into the boards on Thursday. Also for Boston, Dennis Seidenberg is reportedly recovering from an infection and could play either Saturday or Sunday in NY. Again, watch the pregame warm-ups for the final word.
Columbus starter Steve Mason's 2011-12 season may be over. He took a shot to the head in practice on Wednesday and did not play on Friday. Allen York got the start and Matt Hunwick was signed as a short term backup. Also for CLB, James Wisniewski was spotted at practice on Friday, but he is not expected to return this season.
Finally, the Oilers have a couple injury question marks in Ladislav Smid (neck) and Jeff Petry (puck to the face). Both are day-to-day, but they could play in the Oilers' next game.
Good luck with your roster moves for the final week.