Jacob Markstrom is set to undergo knee surgery

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Sports generally emulate life in that you can rarely count on a “sure thing.” The Florida Panthers have been grooming an undeniably promising goalie prospect in Jacob Markstrom, but turning potential into production is often as much about luck as it is hard work.

In Markstrom’s case, the biggest hurdle might be health. The talented netminder underwent knee surgery last season and George Richards reports that he’ll go under the knife for that same problematic knee on Wednesday.

On the bright side, the Panthers indicate that it will be a minor procedure. It’s not a great sign to see a 21-year-old player undergo two knee-related procedures in as many years, but hopefully it’s just a speed bump in his development.

If nothing else, the Panthers are strangely accustomed to their goalies having knee issues. Scott Clemmensen reportedly underwent a similar surgery on his knee going into this season while Jose Theodore is struggling with a knee injury of his own right now.

Those injuries have placed Clemmensen in the top spot for the time being and the report indicates that Markstrom might even play again this season. The Panthers keep scrapping a very nice season together, so it wouldn’t be shocking to watch them continue to bend but not break – kind of like a good knee, actually.

Shea Weber practices with Predators

Tuesday provided an interesting mix of players going on or off the injured reserve, but the most promising news was more of a baby step in the right direction. Shea Weber practiced with the Nashville Predators yesterday, but there’s still no timetable for his return to NHL action.

One interesting side note is that Weber didn’t wear a no-contact jersey, yet head coach Barry Trotz admitted that perhaps he should have.

It’s unlikely that you need to be told how important the hard-shooting defenseman is to the Predators, but the fact that he’s the team’s leader in points (along with less surprising categories) should show how vital he is to their success. That being said, there is a silver lining to his absence as Ryan Suter gets a chance to show that he’s more than just the Robin to Weber’s Batman.

(Of course, Suter’s sans-Shea success might be useful when it’s time for him to sign his next contract, so there’s that.)

Concussions have been a spirit-crushing problem in the NHL, but they haven’t been uniformly damning, as Claude Giroux’s comeback is proof that a player can return to action at near full-strength with surprising speed. Every case is different, however, and Nashville is wise to tread lightly considering Weber’s physical style and undeniable importance.

Flyers expect Jaromir Jagr to miss 7-10 days

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One of the better early moments of the 2012 Winter Classic turned a bit sour when Jaromir Jagr suffered an injury while splitting the New York Rangers defense. Jagr said that he didn’t expect to miss much time with the issue and it appears he might be right; Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren announced that he’ll miss a week to 10 days.

Initially it seemed that it was a calf injury, but Holmgren labelled it as a “mild left groin strain” according to CSNPhilly.com’s Sarah Baicker.

That might cause some hemming and hawing in some circles, but functionally it’s an injury that would inhibit his skating in one way or another. If that 7-10 day window is accurate, then Jagr could miss this range of games:

Thursday, Jan. 5: home vs. Chicago
Saturday, Jan. 7: home vs. Ottawa
Sunday, Jan. 8: away vs. Ottawa
Tuesday, Jan. 10: away vs. Carolina
Thursday, Jan. 12: away vs. Islanders

Obviously, rehabbing injuries is an inexact science, so he could miss more or less than four to five games. Either way, it’s a workable situation for the Flyers as they’ve already played four contests without Jagr this season.

Injury updates for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Tom Gilbert

After a lengthy spell of away game incompetence, the Edmonton Oilers went to Chicago and beat the Blackhawks 4-3 last night. Normally that would be cause for celebration, but that win seemed costly with injuries to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tom Gilbert.

Exact timetables are usually tough to come by, but the team provided some hazy updates that might be a round of good news/bad news.

First, the bad news: Tom Renney said that Nugent-Hopkins will miss at least the Oilers’ next two games, if not more. It appears that RNH is dealing with a shoulder injury that came when he lost his edge and fell during last night’s game.

By mere optics alone, it would seem that Gilbert’s injury would be more severe considering how bad that Dan Carcillo hit looked. Jim Matheson reports that Gilbert’s knee is already showing improvement from Monday, although he won’t play in tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. He may, however, be able to participate in a “light skate” on Wednesday, though.

Most outsiders would expect the loss of RNH to tower over Gilbert’s absence, but many Oilers fans expressed a different belief last night. Either way, both players are catalysts for the Oil O, so the hope is that neither misses much time.

In the mean time, the Oilers recalled hard-hitting blueliner Colten Teubert and forward Josh Green to fill those offensive and defensive voids.

Ruff expresses optimism about improved health of Sabres


The Buffalo Sabres are a banged-up bunch, but some of the team’s smaller maladies might be clearing up. John Vogl of the Buffalo News reports that head coach Lindy Ruff is “cautiously optimistic” about explosive winger Jason Pominville’s chances of playing through flu-like symptoms, but that’s not the only positive update.

Today marked the first day that embattled free agent addition Ville Leino managed to skate with the team since breaking his foot while blocking a shot on Dec. 13. Leino even brought up the idea of coming back on Saturday, although he admitted that a window of next week is probably more realistic.

Hot-and-cold scorer Brad Boyes’ status is a little bit more of a mystery for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, as Boyes is dealing with a “stinger” to his injured ankle.

Roy needs to turn things around

Derek Roy might be the player affected most by Pominville’s coin-flip status. He’s been relatively disappointing this season with 23 points in 38 games, but skated with high-flying winger Thomas Vanek and Zack Kassian in practice today. That might give him a needed boost, but he could get bumped off that top line if Pominville plays.

Then again, Ruff told Vogl that it’s up to Roy – not his linemates – to get things going again.

“I look at how many inside opportunities a player gets and it’s not whether somebody  else can get him going. You’ve got to get yourself going,” Ruff said. “And that’s by getting to the inside. That’s when you’ve got to get down on your knees and stick the puck in your teeth and crawl into the net. That’s how dirty you’ve got to get when it isn’t going as good as you want it to go.”

That doesn’t sound very legal or sanitary, but I like the spirit (and the mental image). Either way, it sounds like the Sabres are gradually getting a little healthier, which is great news for a team that needs it.