Zubrus, who will miss his second straight game today and will not play in Pittsburgh tomorrow night, is suffering from an upper body injury that has club officials concerned for the long term. Although team officials will not comment on the problem, Zubrus is being treated with medication for what is believed to be a back problem.Uh oh. First of all, back injuries are brutal. I've had a few in my day and they're not only extremely painful, but often difficult to fully heal from. The pain lingers and you never know which twist or turn is going to aggravate the issue. If it's serious enough that Zubrus needs to at least check if he needs surgery, then safe to say we won't be seeing him anytime soon. If it's a vertebrae issue, then he'll either need to rest until it heals completely or have it fused surgically, either of which will put him out of commission for at least a month, maybe two. It's obviously better news if it's a muscle issue because of the shorter recovery timeframe. However, muscles injuries are made trickier by the shortened season. With the Devils playing four games a week, Zubrus could miss significant time just by taking seven to 10 days off to allow the muscle to be 100 percent -- which you bet the Devils will want the 34-year old to do.
While the first-line left winger is considered day-to-day, he may seek an outside opinion to find out whether a different approach, such as surgery, might be necessary.
Regardless of what the actual injury is or how long he'll be out, this shows just how much Lou Lamoriello is playing with fire this season. This forward corps is extremely shallow, especially in the top six. While the Devils may be blessed with a plethora of bottom six options, their rotation at first line left wing shows how incredibly desperate this team is for quality wingers up front. Lou has said he's close to a decision on whether he'll finally sign team mascot Mathieu Darche and my guess is that decision will depend on what Zubrus' second opinion says. The Devils also could recall the recently acquired Andrei Loktionov from AHL, although that presents its own issues. The Kings already tried Loktionov, a natural centerman, at the wing and the experiment failed so miserably they traded him to New Jersey. The Devils could also move Jacob Josefson back up to FLLW, but I'm not sure they're really sold on that idea after already trying it several times this season.
There are a lot of moving parts that depend on just how serious this injury actually is. One thing's for sure, Stefan Matteau will be sticking around for a little while longer -- although, again, I don't think anyone believes he belongs on the first line on a regular basis.