This week we take a look at how injuries will affect the Western Conference playoff picture. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Eastern Conference update!
Cam Fowler – The Ducks’ defenseman suffered a shoulder injury last Sunday and was expected to miss two to six weeks. We’re about a week into that timetable and he hasn’t started skating, which is to be expected. Fowler eats up a lot of minutes for Anaheim (25+ a night), so it’ll be interesting to see how coach Randy Carlyle adapts.
John Gibson – Anaheim’s starting goaltender faced shots from his teammates during Monday’s practice and has made great progress from an upper-body injury that kept him out of the team’s final three regular season games. Goalies are usually close to a return when they start taking shots (not the alcoholic kind of course), so I’d say it’s more likely than not he starts against the Sharks on Thursday. Gibson really held the Ducks together (he was their Duck tape) as they battled through injuries this season – he posted a 2.43 GAA and .926 SV% with a 31-18-7 record. In the event he’s not ready for the team’s playoff opener, veteran Ryan Miller should have no trouble filling in. Miller posted a solid 2.35 GAA and .928 through 28 appearances in the regular season.
Kevin Bieksa – Was a full participant in Monday’s practice. Coach Randy Carlyle believes Bieksa could be an option for game one on Thursday if things go well.
Semyon Varlamov – A knee injury will keep the Avalanche goaltender out for the entirety of the first round. As if an opening matchup against the Predators wasn’t tough enough… Varlamov played a key role in Colorado’s push for the playoffs, posting a.937 SV% and 2.21 GAA in the final month of the regular season. Backup Jonathan Bernier recently dealt with his own injury in the form of a concussion and will be in tough against the President’s Trophy-winning Predators.
Erik Johnson – About a week into the original six-week timetable for his fractured patella. The A