Injury bug runs rampant around NHL

Injury bug runs rampant around NHL
February 25, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Brooks Laich and Dmitry Orlov have yet to play this season, Jack Hillen last played on Opening Night and Marcus Johansson (six games) and Mike Green (three games) have also missed time with injuries.

It may sound bleak, but Capitals fans should know that the injury bug could be a whole lot worse. Consider how busy the infirmaries have been with some of the other contenders in the Eastern Conference.

OTTAWA SENATORS: Take away a team’s best offensive player and its best defenseman and you’ve probably taken away any chance of that team staying competitive. Sideline the team’s starting goalie to boot, and now you’ve really got them in a tough spot.

That is, unless said team happens to be the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa has won a season-high four straight and can move into a first place tie atop the Northeast Division with a win Monday against the Montreal Canadiens despite an injury list that continues to grow.

Up front, Ottawa’s leading scorer from each of the last two years, Jason Spezza, had points in each of Ottawa’s first five games this season but underwent back surgery in late January and is expected to miss the rest of the season. 

T op-six forwards Guillaume Latendresse (neck) and Milan Michalek (knee) have missed the last 12 games and six games respectively, while center Peter Regin has missed the last seven games with a back injury. 

On the back end, reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson is also out for the season with an Achilles tear suffered Feb.13 in Pittsburgh while first-round pick Jared Cowan is also out for the season.  

Add to all the long-term injuries, starting goalie Craig Anderson who is considered day-to-day with an ankle injury suffered Feb.21 against the Rangers.

An argument can be made that Anderson is the biggest reason that Ottawa has remained in a playoff position despite the laundry list of injuries. Anderson’s 1.49 goals-against-average and .952 save percentage are both tops in the NHL. 

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: Like the Senators, the Toronto Maple Leafs remain in a playoff position despite playing most of the season without top-line winger Joffrey Lupol. 

Lupol finished second on the Maple Leafs in scoring last season (67PTS in 66 games), but a broken arm has sidelined him for all but three games this season.  

James van Riemsdyk has taken Lupol’s spot on Toronto No.1 line and has filled in admirably with a team-high 11 goals and 15 points in 19 games (through Sunday). 

In addition to Lupol, Toronto has also been without starting goalie James Reimer (knee) and forward Matt Frattin (knee) for the last six games. Toronto is 3-3-0 over that stretch with backup goalie Ben Scrivens earning consecutive shutouts on Feb.16 and Feb.18. 

CAROLINA HURRICANES: The Carolina Hurricanes could limp into Verizon Center Tuesday with as many as six regulars out of their lineup due to injury.

Jeff Skinner (concussion) and Tim Brent (lower-body) have each the missed the last four games, while veteran Tuomo Ruutu has missed the entire season after hip surgery. 

Defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason have missed the last five games each due to lower-body injuries, while fellow blueliner Jamie McBain has missed four straight games with an upper-body injury.

Carolina has struggled as the injuries have mounted as they have lost three of four, after a 5-1-1 stretch had them in sole possession atop the Southeast Division.