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Monday, November 12, 2007
Icing It Down: More concussions

By Tim Kavanagh
ESPN.com

It's expected that in a sport in which much of the action originates with the muscles in the hips and waistline, there will be many groin injuries, and this season has certainly seen a strong trend to support this expectation. The other, more troubling, theme with the injuries this season has been concussions. In a week when Eric Lindros, whose career was greatly impacted by concussions, announced his retirement and frequent concussion-deliverer Scott Stevens was inducted into the Hall of Fame, we witnessed two more, which will be discussed below. The two concussions from this past week do not look to be as serious as the one experienced earlier this season by Patrice Bergeron; however, it is never certain that a player will come back 100 percent after one of these injuries.

I'd also like to hope from a horrible mind-image standpoint that we don't have any more of these "skate slices random body part" injuries; we were reminded this week of Dan Boyle's preseason accident after seeing Kevin Bieksa get his calf muscle sliced.

'Tis But a Scratch

Tim Connolly, C, Sabres: Connolly -- who is tied with defenseman Brian Campbell for the team lead in points -- has been out of action since Nov. 5 with an oblique strain, but should not miss much more than another week or so. Clarke MacArthur, who sounds like a 19th century explorer given his name and hometown of Lloydminster, was called up from Rochester of the AHL and scored in his first game on Wednesday night. However, MacArthur is not worth much fantasy consideration until he can show consistent scoring ability.

Daymond Langkow, C, Flames: Langkow sustained a concussion from a Matt Cooke hit on Nov. 8 and is expected to miss a few games. Langkow continues, when healthy, to be on the top line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, which has afforded him the opportunity to become a valuable commodity for fantasy purposes. Craig Conroy ably filled the role on the line Saturday night, earning an assist on Tanguay's goal, but the current upgrade in value will diminish once Langkow returns.

Pavol Demitra, LW, Wild: Demitra owners, Wild coach Jacques Lemaire feels your pain and is equally exasperated, telling the Star Tribune that "if he one day wakes up and says, 'Hey I'm ready to go,' take the plane, come and see us. He's going to get a schedule. He'll know where we are." With no Demitra and a spotty appearance streak by Marian Gaborik, the Wild are depending on Brian Rolston and youngsters Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard for offense.

Jason Spezza, C, Senators: Spezza missed his sixth straight game on Saturday, so Mike Fisher owners continue to tap their fingertips together and say "Egggg-cellent" in their best C. Montgomery Burns impression. In the six games missed by Spezza, Fisher has six points (three on the power play). Ottawa coach John Paddock says the team hopes to have its franchise center man back to practice on Monday or Tuesday in preparation for Thursday's game against the Sabres, so weekly lineup leagues should find another option this week, especially since the team will have only that game and one on Saturday for this scoring period.

Simon Gagne, LW, Flyers: Gagne has missed the Flyers' past two games due to a concussion and his status is "out indefinitely" (as we have come to expect from these types of injuries). Despite a horrible 2006-07 for the team, Gagne had a pretty stellar 47-goal season and was skating alongside standout Mike Richards before he went down. Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren said Gagne may not sit out the full seven days -- as recommended by concussion guidelines -- because the concussion is considered a mild one, so he could be back as early as Thursday night against the Rangers or Saturday against the Devils.

Pavel Kubina, D, Maple Leafs: The colossal nine-year veteran suffered an MCL injury during Saturday night's loss to the Rangers, and it is uncertain how long he will be out. This comes on the heels of the return during the weekend of Bryan McCabe, so it is a giant disappointment for Leafs' fans who were finally going to see their team at full strength. Kubina is on his way to another fine fantasy season, as long as this injury is not too serious, and should finish near 40 points and 100 penalty minutes.

Alexander Semin, LW, Capitals: According to a report in the Washington Post, Semin has no structural damage to his ankle, yet he still is unable to skate and there is no timetable for his return. The space on the roster due to the loss of Semin and Chris Clark has been filled, at least temporarily, by Chris Bourque, son of the legendary Ray Bourque. Bourque the younger was greeted into the NHL by being put in the wing slot on the Michael Nylander-Alex Ovechkin line on Tuesday night in Atlanta, but he saw pretty limited action overall in the team's three games last week.

Lights Out

Manny Fernandez, G, Bruins: Fernandez has been out with a left knee strain since the beginning of the month, and Tim Thomas has been nothing short of superb this season, including in Saturday night's 45-saves-on-46-shots performance for the win against Buffalo. Despite what we thought at the season's outset, Thomas has proven to be the Bruins' goalie to own this season, and this is not likely to change upon Fernandez's return.

Dan Boyle, D, Lightning: Boyle, who severed several tendons in his wrist in a freak locker-room accident in September -- his skate fell off the hook in his locker -- aggravated the injury last week and had surgery on Friday. Filip Kuba has the hot hand as of late, including a power-play goal on Saturday night in Boyle's place at the point of that scary top unit, but a pickup of Shane O'Brien will get you a lion's share of penalty minutes to go with the occasional point. Third-year blueliner Paul Ranger also will see a slight uptick in his value, but he is already owned in most leagues.

Tim Kavanagh is a fantasy hockey analyst for ESPN.com.