- Jim Kelley
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Who's starting the Stanley Cup playoffs with more to contend with than just their opponent?
We've scoured the charts for the latest in that most crucial bit of playoff information: the injury report.
Ranking clubs with 1-4 pucks (1 being held together with hockey tape, 4 being relatively healthy), should provide some insight as to what teams are facing in the second season.
Tampa Bay: The Lightning have lost all of 34 man-games to injury. They're so healthy we considered giving them five pucks. The team is reporting no injuries, but keep an eye on defenseman Darryl Sydor. A key component to the blue line in terms of talent and experience, Sydor had a mysterious "upper body" injury last week. He'll start the playoffs, but the situation bears watching.
New York: Center Alexei Yashin missed much of the regular season with a lacerated forearm but has been rounding into shape in recent weeks. Despite his reputation as a playoff failure in Ottawa, he has five goals and 11 points in 12 postseason games as an Islander. Backup goalie Garth Snow has a groin problem but could play if called upon. Left winger Jason Blake has a high ankle sprain, which hurts the team's overall speed -- not a good thing when playing the ultra-quick Lightning.
Boston: Joe Thornton is listed with a wrist injury, although management has opted for the ultra-vague "upper body" injury. The whispering is Thornton has a rib injury that could be crippling to the Bruins' playoff chances. He didn't play in the season finale at New Jersey and is said to be doubtful for opening night vs. Montreal. Left winger Michal Grosek (concussion) and defenseman Ian Moran (ankle) are recovering and could be available if called upon.
Montreal: The Canadiens are doing well in this regard, which is good because they don't have a lot of depth. All-Star defenseman Sheldon Souray is playing with an "upper body" injury, believed to be a sprained wrist. Fourth-line center Steve Begin is playing with a sore shoulder, and defenseman Patrice Brisebois has a sore groin but should play.
Philadelphia: The Flyers have been hurting all season but have been able to withstand major injuries to centers Keith Primeau and Jeremy Roenick and defenseman Eric Desjardins. All three are back playing, but considering the severity of their injuries -- Primeau is recovering from a serious concussion, Roenick is fighting back from a concussion and still wearing a shield to protect a broken jaw, and Desjardins is bouncing back from a broken right arm -- they're still an at-risk team. Defenseman Vladimir Malakhov, acquired for depth and to offset the loss of Desjardins, is out with a broken jaw and could return if the Flyers advance.
New Jersey: With the Devils, it's not only who's injured but what position they play. Scott Stevens, their captain and best defensive defenseman, has post-concussion syndrome and could be lost for the playoffs. That's a huge loss. Defenseman Brian Rafalski, a superb puck handler, is attempting to come back from a broken leg suffered March 9, but that's asking a lot. Fourth-line left winger Eric Rasmussen is questionable with a knee sprain. Center/winger Grant Marshall is a role player, but with a broken hand, he's not likely to play much of a role.
Toronto: Leafs Nation is agog with playoff fever once again, but its excitement is tempered by injuries. Goalie Ed Belfour looked sharp in his last three outings, closing the season with back-to-back shutouts. But he has had season-long back problems, which will pose a problem if there is a flare-up because there is little help in reserve. More worrisome is the status of right winger Owen Nolan, who has an undisclosed right knee problem that may keep him out of the playoffs. Gritty left winger Darcy Tucker is nursing a groin/stomach muscle ailment that could sidelined him for the first round. Defenseman Ken Klee and right winger Mikael Renberg are attempting to come back from shoulder and hamstring problems, respectively.
Ottawa: The Senators have a big question mark in goal with Patrick Lalime attempting to bounce back from a sprained knee that, coincidentally, was suffered against the Maple Leafs. Center Todd White is just now returning from a broken foot. Pesky left winger Vaclav Varada, who missed the bulk of the season with reconstructive knee surgery, is also just coming back. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov is returning from shoulder surgery and should participate in this series. The variable here is how ready Volchenkov, Varada and White will be.
Detroit: The Red Wings have more players sidelined or recovering from injuries than most any team in the postseason, but their depth all but eliminates that as an excuse. Curtis Joseph has a sprained ankle and likely will give way to inexperienced playoff backup Manny Legace, possibly throughout the first round. Robert Lang, arguably the No. 1 center, is attempting to come back from a serious rib injury, and Grind Line center Kris Draper is attempting to come back from a rotator cuff problem. Defenseman Jason Woolley is out with a bad back, and blueline stalwart Derian Hatcher is finding his form after returning from knee surgery and subsequently suffering a shoulder injury. Mathieu Dandenault returned Saturday from a broken right foot, but he's nowhere near playoff form. That's a long list that could come back to haunt the Wings. But considering they finished first overall, they obviously have enough depth to put up a good fight.
Nashville: Center Rem Murray has been out of the lineup since Jan. 5 with dystonia, a neurological condition that causes his head to move toward his left shoulder, and won't return. His absence shouldn't impact the lineup all that much as the Predators are used to playing without him. However, Murray's veteran experience and gritty play would come in handy this time of year.
San Jose: The Sharks only have one injury, but it's a big one. Marco Sturm, a top scorer, is recovering from surgery on a broken
left leg and dislocated ankle and won't be back. Without Sturm, the Sharks' second-leading scorer when he was injured in early March, the Sharks will be challenged to create offense in a close-checking series.
St. Louis: The Blues were able to reach the playoffs without defensemen Al MacInnis (eye) and Barret Jackman (shoulder), but advancing is a different story. The Blues are hoping to get defensemen Alexander Khavanov back from a fractured foot, but they won't know how well he can play until they actually play him. Right wing Eric Boguniecki played Sunday after coming back from a mild concussion, but he still is regarded as an at-risk player.
Vancouver: While it may not be an injury, Todd Bertuzzi's suspension has the same effect as one. The Canucks' top line will have to face opponents' top defensive pairings without one of the best -- if not the best -- power forwards in the game. Keep an eye on defensemen Ed Jovanovski and Bryan Allen, as both are nursing shoulder injuries and could be limited in the level of their physical play. The Canucks lost left winger Magnus Arvedson to a knee injury earlier in the season and don't expect him back for the postseason.
Calgary: The Flames are concerned about the status of Stephane Yelle, a key player in the faceoff circle and a valuable ingredient on their power play and penalty kill. He has a lower body injury -- believed to be a back sprain -- and is questionable for the start of the playoffs. Yelle's injury leaves the Flames a tad thin at the position with the absence of Dean McAmmond, who also is suffering from a back problem, and Steve Reinprecht, who underwent season-ending surgery on his ailing left shoulder on March 11. Left winger Dave Lowry has an abdominal strain and will be at half speed, if he can go at all.
Colorado: The Avalanche are sweating a late-season injury to All-Star defenseman Rob Blake. It's reportedly a bruised ankle, but could be worse. Scoring left winger Alex Tanguay, who missed the last 11 games with a sprained right knee, is skating but likely will miss the start of the Dallas series. Left winger Paul Kariya is out indefinitely after injuring his right ankle in the closing minutes of regulation during the season finale with Nashville. Center Andrei Nikolishin is skating after missing 10 games with a back strain. Peter Forsberg's effectiveness will be an issue. He missed a significant chunk of the season with the dreaded abdominal strain and hasn't been close to his best level of performance since he returned. That's a lot of injuries for a team that has skill, but maybe not enough depth to get to the Western Conference final.
Dallas: While the Stars have improved mightily through the regular season, they could be undone by injuries. They welcomed back defensemen Sergei Zubov (thigh bruise) and Jon Klemm (groin) and forwards Stu Barnes (upper body injury) and Jere Lehtinen (back) in their season finale, but Jason Arnott (groin), Klemm and Brenden Morrow (lower body) didn't finish it. Throw in right winger Scott Young, who is out with a back injury, and the Stars' overall depth will be tested.
Jim Kelley is the NHL writer for ESPN.com. Submit questions or comments to his mail bag.
Many teams are hurting more than they're healthy heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs.