What a weekend it was for injuries, and not just your garden-variety groin pulls and flu-like symptoms either. We're talking slipping on a carpet set out for a pregame puck-dropping ceremony, an emergency appendectomy and a frightful open-ice hit on a rookie delivered by a veteran with a squeaky-clean record. Goalies were hit particularly hard. Columbus' Pascal Leclaire, Ottawa's Martin Gerber and Rick DiPietro of the Islanders all went down, in addition to a trio of St. Louis Blues – Manny Legace, Chris Mason and Ben Bishop. Bishop, a minor-league call-up – a backup's backup if you will – was well on his way to a shutout during his first career start on Saturday when something faltered in his lower extremities (teams are allowed to be even more secretive about disclosing the nature of injuries this year, and most are taking full advantage of that allowance). Inspired by all of the recent visitors to training rooms, this week's rankings deal with each team's most significant injuries:
1. Minnesota Wild (6-0-1, Previous: 2) – Perceived top star Marian Gaborik is nursing an undisclosed lower-body injury (we're not so sure his upper body above the shoulders is doing so well either, considering the lack of progress toward an extension or trade), but the Wild just keep chugging along. They might be really learning something about themselves as a team right now.
2. Buffalo Sabres (6-1-2, Previous: 3) – Not a lot has gone wrong for the Sabres, but losing new captain Craig Rivet for at least a couple of weeks is not what the doctor ordered. The newcomer on defense underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last Wednesday and is expected back in two weeks. Those are 34-year-old knees, however. This, too, came on the heels of defenseman Henrik Tallinder sustaining a deep laceration above an ankle.
3. Detroit Red Wings (7-1-1, Previous: 10) – The Mule is out of commission. Johan Franzen, the playoff goal-scoring machine, is the latest Detroit veteran to get hurt. He suffered a Grade 2 sprain to his left MCL on Saturday and figures to be out for at least four weeks. He'll join Chris Chelios (broken tibia) on injured reserve.
4. New York Rangers (9-2-1, Previous: 8) – Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan both are suffering from bruised egos. OK, so that's an obvious cheap shot, and not at all accurate: Jagr cut his ties with the Rangers in the offseason and New York, while apparently cutting ties with Shanny, lets him use its facilities to stay in shape.
5. Montreal Canadiens (5-1-1, Previous: 1) – Andrei Kostitsyn participated in Montreal's morning skate on Saturday, and that is a big step forward for the young winger who has been out with a concussion suffered Oct. 18. Kostitsyn, who emerged with 26 goals and 53 points last year, could return as early as Tuesday against Carolina.
6. San Jose Sharks (7-2-0, Previous: 5) – Fast-starting San Jose figures to be without speedy second-year center Torrey Mitchell for at least another month. Mitchell broke two bones in a leg early in camp, had surgery and is rehabilitating. His speed, energy and smarts are missed on the third line and penalty kill, which has allowed Patrick Marleau to excel (two shorties). But over a long season, Marleau is better served not logging so much ice time (22:31) considering the travel demands of a West Coast team. Yes, the Sharks are deep, but there will come a time when Mitchell's assets are needed.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (5-2-2, Previous: 9) – No secret what's missing here: only the team's top two defensemen, Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney. Both have undergone surgery – Gonchar for a dislocated left shoulder and Whitney for his left foot. Whitney might be back in December, but Gonchar is lost for most of the season. The defensive depth in the organization is going to be tested.
8. New Jersey Devils (5-2-1, Previous: 7) – Take your pick. Which injured forward will be missed most – Jamie Langenbrunner, Bobby Holik or Brian Rolston? Considering he averaged fewer than 10 minutes in his five games, we can eliminate Holik from the mix. Langenbrunner and Rolston have only one goal apiece and have combined for just five points. But all three are important to Jersey's overall mix. Langenbrunner (hip) is day-to-day while Holik (broken pinkie) is expected to be out three to four weeks, which might be a shorter absence than for Rolston, who is nursing a tricky high-ankle sprain.
9. Anaheim Ducks (5-5-0, Previous: 28) – The Ducks are missing left wing Brad Larsen until at least the middle of next month because of sports-hernia surgery, but their biggest "injury" might be the daily fight with the salary cap. Anaheim is looking for someone to take Ken Klee off its hands so it can slip newly signed Bret Hedican into the mix.
10. Boston Bruins (4-2-3, Previous: 15) – The Bruins are hopeful forward Chuck Kobasew will rejoin the team during the three-game trip to western Canada this week. Kobasew skated Friday and Saturday for the first time since suffering an ankle fracture during the season opener.
11. Carolina Hurricanes (4-2-1, Previous: 11) – The Hurricanes received good news when Brandon Sutter was discharged from a Long Island hospital on Sunday, a day after sustaining a concussion on a hard hit from Doug Weight. Carolina has to find a way, too, to replace the 22:34 of ice time Joni Pitkanen is logging, as the valuable defenseman is gone for three to four weeks with a knee injury – assuming all goes according to plan with Tuesday's arthroscopic procedure.
12. Washington Capitals (4-2-1, Previous: 12) – It's been a long struggle for veteran defenseman Brian Pothier, who continues to battle postconcussion syndrome from a head injury sustained from a hit by Bruins forward Milan Lucic last January. Pothier remains out indefinitely.
13. Colorado Avalanche (5-3-0, Previous: 17) – Can you believe this? No injuries! Figures, doesn't it? That's all the Avs were battling last year, from Joe Sakic to Ryan Smyth to Paul Stastny and on down the line. Let's go another way with this: Whom can Colorado least afford to lose right now? Maybe the rejuvenated Milan Hejduk, who has six goals and a team-high 34 shots while averaging nearly 21 minutes of ice time a night.
14. Calgary Flames (4-3-1, Previous: 25) – The team keeps waiting for Matthew Lombardi's blazing speed to translate to the new NHL, but something always seems to conspire – be it inconsistency or nagging injuries – and the latter has struck again. Lombardi is nursing a shoulder injury, which is not considered serious but is there nonetheless.
15. St. Louis Blues (5-3-0, Previous: 6) – The recent rash of injuries to their goalies reminds us of a similar Blues affliction a couple of years ago. Those injuries pale in comparison, though, to the loss for the season of young, emerging star defenseman Erik Johnson. He's recovering from knee surgery to repair damage done during a freak accident with a golf cart during a team outing before camp. The year of lost development and the questions of how he'll skate next season linger.
16. Vancouver Canucks (4-4-0, Previous: 14) – Fractured cartilage in a rib is expected to keep top-paid Vancouver forward Pavol Demitra sidelined three to four weeks. Demitra was off to a modest start with two goals and one assist in six games. His ice time was modest, too, at 16:51 per contest. The team has to hope there won't be lingering effects from this injury, considering Demitra was supposed to provide second-line scoring and second-unit power-play production.
17. Chicago Blackhawks (3-3-3, Previous: 19) – Everyone agrees the Blackhawks' greatest asset is their youth, and they're still missing one of their better young players, rugged defenseman James Wisniewski. He underwent knee surgery for an ACL tear early in the offseason, and still hopes to return to action in early December.
18. Philadelphia Flyers (2-3-3, Previous: 27) – Already ravaged by injury on defense (Randy Jones, Ryan Parent, Derian Hatcher and let us not forget Mike Rathje), the Flyers got more bad news with the loss of forward Daniel Briere to a groin tear. The injury was enough to require surgery, and he'll be out for nearly a month.
19. Ottawa Senators (3-5-1, Previous: 16) – OK, we can hear the chuckles all the way from Canada's capital city, but Martin Gerber sustained a leg-muscle pull during practice last Friday. So maybe Gerber's absence will enable Alex Auld to solidify his hold on the starting status and bring some much-needed consistency to the netminding efforts. It worked on Monday night. Hey, you can always dream a little.
20. Edmonton Oilers (4-3-1, Previous: 4) – What's this? No top-line forward or star defenseman out for months? What a departure from last season. Of course, the Oilers have every right to believe they were owed some good health, but it's still early. For the record, left wing Jean-Francois Jacques is on injured reserve with a back injury and defenseman Jason Strudwick is day-to-day with an undisclosed ailment.
21. Toronto Maple Leafs (3-2-3, Previous: 29) – The Leafs are basically a healthy bunch now with the return of defenseman Jeff Finger. The offseason acquisition from Colorado missed the first seven games with a foot fracture before making his season debut on Saturday.
22. Florida Panthers (4-4-0, Previous: 22) – It's more a black-and-blue line for the Panthers' defense than simply a blue line. Bryan Allen (knee), Cory Murphy (shoulder) and Bryan McCabe (back) are all injured defensemen. Allen will probably miss the most time. Rehabilitation from Monday's surgery will take several months.
23. Nashville Predators (4-4-0, Previous: 18) – The team reports no injuries. That might be news to Steve Sullivan, or did you forget all about him, too? Out since February 2007 with disk problems in his back, the one-time stud in Chicago and early on with the Preds has actually increased his workouts of late with no setbacks – something that has plagued him throughout his comeback attempts. Under contract to Nashville only through this season, Sullivan says privately he is shooting for a return before Christmas.
24. Phoenix Coyotes (3-4-0, Previous: 21) – Role-playing center Joel Perrault has yet to appear this season; the 25-year-old is battling the consequences of a concussion sustained before the start of training camp. Rookie defenseman Jonas Ahnelov broke a finger blocking a shot during the final game of the preseason and remains out as well.
25. Dallas Stars (3-4-2, Previous: 13) – The Stars can't keep the puck out of their net, partly because they can't get the puck out of their zone. Sergei Zubov, recovering from hip surgery, is clearly missed. Zubov isn't the most physical defenseman, but he's one of the best passers from the blue line, he's smart and he just lets everyone else fall into their natural roles.
26. Los Angeles Kings (3-4-1, Previous: 26) – For a team like the Kings, it's all about developing the young players. But it's hard for defensive standout Jack Johnson to get valuable experience without the pressure of winning when he's on the sidelines rehabilitating an injury. Johnson has missed five straight games after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, courtesy of a hit by San Jose's Mike Grier.
27. Atlanta Thrashers (2-4-2, Previous: 20) – The Thrashers are basically injury-free, unless you count physical right wing Mike Hoffman, who sustained a hand fracture during a preseason fight. Eric Boulton is taking care of the enforcing during the regular season, but he might welcome the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Hoffman to lighten the load.
28. Columbus Blue Jackets (3-6-0, Previous: 24) – The heightened expectations for a Columbus team that has never made the playoffs include goalie Pascal Leclaire finding a way to stay healthy – something that has been a challenge for the improved netminder. He injured his ankle Saturday and is now on injured reserve. Don't be surprised if the move to develop Steve Mason is accelerated.
29. Tampa Bay Lightning (1-3-3, Previous: 30) – What's worse than simply not producing? How about getting hurt, too? That's the situation Radim Vrbata finds himself in: The offseason acquisition from Phoenix had no goals and just one assist in his first five games, then suffered a groin injury during an Oct. 22 practice.
30. New York Islanders (2-6-0, Previous: 23) – How nervous should the Isles be about that 15-year contract for Rick DiPietro? He has been in and out of the lineup because of injury virtually since the day he signed it. DiPietro sustained a lower-body injury that reportedly isn't related to previous ailments. He sat out Monday, and his status is up in the air. DiPietro underwent procedures to each hip and surgery on a knee since signing the deal, too.