The downside to playing hurt

savarddown.jpgWhen a star hockey player is struggling, it’s not crazy to wonder “Is he hurt? Is he injured?” Some might respond with a token “that’s just an excuse” but in the realm of hockey, playing injured isn’t just common. It’s practically expected.

So whenever you can get a little perspective on what it must be like to deal with pain and play such a violent and demanding sport, it’s fascinating. Former player Justin Bourne provided a great take on the subject in a column for The Hockey News.

In my junior days, I had nearly broken my wrist in the first game of a playoff series against the Merritt Centennials. Merritt had the type of little punk you could backhand in front of his own parents and they’d shake your hand. Sure enough, he isolated my injury. Little slash. Tiny hack. Mini whack – for games on end. And before long, not only was I enraged, I didn’t want to skate anywhere near the kid. I was like Daniel Sedin on David Bolland in Round 2: completely out of my element.

These nagging, pestering aches and pains make you a different player, not because you’re consciously afraid of getting hit, but because you’re somewhat aware there’s more than one way to skin a cat, or in this case, play the game. You always have the option to play a safer way without getting singled out for hurting your team, but when “not hurting your team” is the goal, you’ve set the bar exceedingly low and your play suffers.

A decline in play caused by injuries is something that is sometimes overlooked. A player can actually cause harm to his team by playing injured if his effectiveness is limited to nothing. It’s kind of like showing up to work with the flu; sure, in your mind you’re being a “trooper” but you might also get your co-workers sick.

So, on some level, we need to keep some perspective. These athletes already fight through a grueling 82-game season and few are at 100 percent at this time of year. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that they’re also getting paid millions to do so. It’s interesting to wonder who is playing with what, though. I guess that’s why depth is so important in hockey …

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    WATCH LIVE: Flyers at Penguins from Heinz Field

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 15: Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins go toe-to-toe prior to fighting during the first period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 15, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are going to take their rivalry outside on Saturday.

    The Flyers visit the Penguins in a Stadium Series clash at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. You can catch the action on NBC or online with the NBC Sports Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    Goalie nods: Murray, Neuvirth get the call at Heinz Field

    Kris Letang won’t play in outdoor game; Schultz game-time decision

    NHL On NBC: Penguins, Flyers meet in Stadium Series

    Giroux: ‘It’s all business’ between Penguins and Flyers at Heinz Field

    We have a (minor league) trade to announce: Coyotes and Bolts swap AHL forwards

    NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30:  Vice President & General Manager, Alternate Governor Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Tampa Bay Lightning and Arizona Coyotes have made a minor league trade.

    The Bolts on Saturday acquired right winger Stefan Fournier from the Coyotes in exchange for right winger Jeremy Morin, who has played 82 career NHL games between the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets.

    Fournier stands six-foot-three-inches tall and 226 pounds. He has two goals and four points in 29 games with the Tuscon Roadrunners in the AHL.

    Morin, who has spent the majority of his pro career in the Blackhawks organization, has been a productive minor league player over the years. He has nine goals and 21 points in 43 games this season with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.

     

     

    Blue Jackets chase Greiss from Islanders net

    FILE - In this March 12, 2016, file photo, New York Islanders goalieThomas Greiss pauses during the team's NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins in Boston. Greiss has received the bulk of the starts after starting goalie Jarsolav Halak was injured last month. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
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    The New York Islanders entered today with a three-game winning streak and holders of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

    But yeah, it’s been a disastrous start for the Islanders on Saturday. The Blue Jackets scored three times in the first period, chasing Thomas Greiss from the New York net after he stopped 14 of 17 shots faced.

    Jean-Francois Berube entered the game to begin the second period and promptly surrendered a goal to Josh Anderson, who scored his 12th of the season.

    Video: The Ducks and Kings brawl — again

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    Oh, look at that: Another heated melee involving the Anaheim Ducks and L.A. Kings.

    You’ll recall a first-period fight fest in a pivotal Pacific Division game between these teams almost one full year ago. On Saturday, in another meeting between these California rivals, the Ducks and Kings were once again at odds.

    This latest conflict? Well, Corey Perry was involved. Again. (Last year, order had been restored during a brief scrum before Perry gave an extra shot to a Kings player, resulting in mayhem.)

    Perry was called this time around for interference on Anze Kopitar. Kings players, as you might expect, suddenly rushed over before Nate Thompson and Brayden McNabb squared off in the main event.