Tom Gulitti is in Dallas and he had more injuries to report: Dainius Zubrus is out for 4-6 weeks with an injury to his right leg and Ilkka Pikkarainen has been retroactively placed on IR due to being ill. This is confirmed by the Devils' official site.
Not to cause speculation, but given that Dainius Zubrus went down (and out shortly thereafter) yesterday's game after blocking a slap shot to his right leg and the length of time he'll be out, I wonder if it's a fracture? Per Gulitti's report, the shot cracked his shin guard so it wouldn't surprise me at all. Regardless of the true nature of Zubrus' injury and how ill Pikkarainen has been, here's the current injury list for the team:
New Jersey Devils Injuries
Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)
|Player||Injury Type||Injury Date|
|Rob Niedermayer||"upper body injury"
In other words, the Devils' top two defensemen; their best checking center; their best checking left winger; their #2 center; and a fourth line winger are all now on the injured list - and with no clear idea of when they'll return.
So far, the Devils have done well in spite of the injuries to Martin, Oduya, Niedermayer, and Pandolfo. Plus, they got some relief to the injuries recently to help with the depth. Patrik Elias returning has been big in terms of strengthening the top half of the lineup. On defense, Andy Greene, Mike Mottau, Colin White, and Bryce Salvador stepping up with heavy minutes in Martin's and Oduya's absence. While the adjustments have been constant, the rotation of Niclas Bergfors, David Clarkson, Matt Halischuk, Brian Rolston and Jamie Langenbrunner across multiple lines has helped for the second and third lines.
Yet with Zubrus and Niedermayer out, I'm now real worried about the center position (especially on faceoffs) for New Jersey. I have no problem with Travis Zajac, but beyond him it's not at all pretty. Tim Sestito has looked decent enough in centering the third line so far; but can he be relied on for the next month and a half to improve further? The signing of Dean McAmmond now looks especially smart, and he even got a point in his first game as a Devil. Though that was one game, how will he fit in going forward? Will he center the third line or even the second? Rod Pelley has remained on the fourth line and will likely stay there.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, will Lemaire now look to Patrik Elias to center the second line if he's not confident in Dean McAmmond? The Devils have the wingers for the second line, but not the center with Zubrus out. Even though I argued against the idea multiple times in the past, he may be the only option. In fact, he is the only option if Lemaire doesn't go with McAmmond.
No offense intended to Pikkarainen, but Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond has been activated off IR per Gulitti's report and according to the Devils' site. He can take his spot on the fourth line - whenever he even gets a game.
I hope Pikkarainen feels better and I especially hope for a proper and full recovery for Zubrus' leg. As with the other injured Devils, I hope they return at full health and that no more Devils have to join them on the IR.