Mike Green returns to the ice, then leaves again

Tonight was supposed to be the first game back for Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green as he recovered from an injured right ankle. While he started his first game in almost three weeks, he was unable to make it through the entire 60 minutes before heading back to the locker room with a limp. CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley says the injury may have occurred in the first period when Devils forward Ryan Carter checked the Caps defender into the boards and kicked his right leg when skating away.

(Check out the picture for visual evidence.)

Head coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t exactly ease Green back into the lineup either. After leaving near the near the end of the first period (and giving it a go at the beginning of the second), Green racked up almost eight minutes of ice time while he was available. Green looked like we was going to recover when he started the second with a shift on the power play. Unfortunately, he stayed on the bench for a few minutes after his shift before heading back to the locker room.

As usual, Green has been productive for the Caps when he’s been on the ice. The problem is that he hasn’t been on the ice all that much this season. Over the five weeks, Green has only played in seven games this season. The six points in seven games are impressive—but the Caps could use him around more than half of their games.

We’ll keep an eye on Green’s injury as new details emerge. We’ll let you know how serious the setback is for Green and if he’ll be available in the second game of the back-to-back against the Devils in Washington tomorrow night.

Anze Kopitar seems to be doing just fine after offseason ankle surgery

You could argue that Anze Kopitar missing the final days of last season and the playoffs is what did in their chances of going deep into the postseason. Kopitar’s ankle injury was an unfortunate break for a team on the brink of breaking out, but as he’s shown already this season, it’s not affecting his play.

Kings coach Terry Murray says that Kopitar is playing great and showing no ill effects from his ankle injury. With three goals and an assist in the Kings’ first two games in Europe, Kopitar is showing that those who thought he would be a dark horse pick for the Art Ross Trophy might have something to crow about.

Helping Kopitar break out are his linemates. While he was expected to have Justin Williams on his right side all along, having Simon Gagne to his left is a surprise and one that’s working out well so far. When Dustin Penner returns from his injury, Murray will have some choices to make with his lines and whether or not he’ll put Penner back with Kopitar or slide him in next to Mike Richards instead. Having those kinds of choices make being a coach a little easier.

If Kopitar can keep this brand of elite level play up he won’t just be in the running for the Art Ross, he could wind up in the Hart Trophy discussion as well.

Oilers Sam Gagner escapes serious injury

It could have been worse for Oilers forward Sam Gagner. It certainly looked bad at the time. Gagner crashed into the end boards during the second period of the Oilers’ 2-1 victory over the Flames on Saturday night. He lay sprawling on the ice in the aftermath of the hit—it could have been any number of ailments from the dangerous collision that were the problem. Was it his head that hit the end boards?  Was it an ankle or upper body injury when he collided awkwardly?  Luckily for the Oilers and Gagner, it looked much worse than it actually was.

The Edmonton Journal had the story and followed up with the Oilers’ coaching staff:

“At the time, it looked like Gagner may have also hit his head on the boards because he was down for a couple of minutes as trainer T.D. Forss came out to see him, but the Oilers dismissed that.

“He’s out day-to-day. ‘Just precautionary,’ said Oilers head coach Tom Renney, when asked if Gagner, who played 2-1/2 minutes in the second period, could have returned as the Oilers beat the Flames 2-1. He wasn’t scheduled to play Sunday in Calgary anyway.”

Later we found out that he had actually injured his ankle blocking a shot earlier in the game.

Since the same two teams are playing tonight, the Oilers coaching staff had already decided that Gagner would be a healthy scratch while they looked at other players. The last thing a player needs in the preseason is a game against a bitter rival when he’s not quite right. It’s surely a welcomed rest for a player who isn’t fighting for a spot on the team.

The sixth overall pick in the 2007 is in the final year of the two-year deal he signed with the Oilers in 2010. Like any other pending restricted free agent, he wants to put his best foot forward from the start of the season as he looks to continue to fulfill the potential he showed with the London Knights in his draft year. At 22 years old, Gagner still has plenty of room to develop on a team that is already stocked with young forwards. He’s scored 40+ points in each of his first four season in the league—but many around the team think Gagner is capable of more than the 15 goals and 27 assists he put up last season.

Staying healthy would be a step in the right direction. He’s missed 14 games in each of the last two seasons; a preseason injury wouldn’t be the start he’s looking for this year. With players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ales Hemsky, and possibly Ryan Nugent-Hopkins around nowadays, the Oilers aren’t depending on him to carry the team offensively this season. Still, if they want to be more successful in the standings, the scoring depth that Gagner could provide would go a long way towards helping the Oilers climb out of the basement.

Already injured Jordan Eberle gets his appendix removed

It hasn’t been a fantastic start to 2011 for Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle.

For one thing, you have the obvious struggles of the Oilers, a team that is clearly still the worst in the West even with the addition of young players such as Eberle, Taylor Hall and so on. He also apparently went down with an ankle injury a couple days ago (with an estimated 10-day window for recovery) and to make matters worse, he reportedly underwent emergency surgery to remove his appendix to boot.

(The former Canadian junior hero’s country also fell flat on their faces in the third period last night, a far cry from the 2010 silver medal performance in which Eberle & Co. gave it their all.)

You might think that the talented youngster is facing nothing but bad news, but here is one bit of silver lining: Dan Tencer reports that the procedure won’t affect the length of time he was originally expected to miss with that ankle injury. See, it’s not all bad, right?