With events like the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, the trade deadline and, of course, the Stanley Cup Playoffs all looming, one constant is the injury bug that has plagued fantasy owners for much of the season and shows no signs of abating during the season's final stretch.
While fantasy owners can rationalize injuries as something that's part of the game, some of the recent names headlining the injury list go above and beyond the norm.
Follow along as NHL.com looks at some notable recent injuries, follows up on the status of those who've been missing some time and helps you with those who've gone in and out of the lineup.
Matt Duchene – Colorado Avalanche, C
The Avs are trying to get back into the top eight in the West after their eight-game losing streak, but they'll have to do it without the services of Duchene, their leading scorer. The team announced the second-year center will be out indefinitely after suffering a hand injury Monday night.
Missing from the lineup of fantasy owners will be 20-plus goals, 20-plus assists and 121 shots. Often on a struggling team, a talent like Duchene could collect a fair share of points across all categories, but that outburst will have to wait.
Brad Richards – Dallas Stars, C
It will be tough for fantasy owners to get used to seeing Richards out of the lineup, seeing as how the gifted playmaker has missed only three games since the start of the 2009-10 season. But that total is going to grow after Richards was injured in a mid-ice collision Sunday night against Columbus -- he was clipped in the jaw by the arm of Jackets center Sami Pahlsson. Richards didn't go with the team on its three-game trip to Western Canada this week -- he missed Tuesday's 4-1 loss at Edmonton and won't play in Calgary or Vancouver -- though he has resumed workouts.
Richards has been having a terrific season, recording 24 goals, 39 assists and 63 points in 56 games and ranks in the top 10 in assists, points and shots (215).
Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks, C
While Richards is out, another top center has found his way back in the lineup. After missing 14 games as a result of taking a puck in the face and sustaining facial fractures, Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf
has returned and looks as good as ever. Getzlaf has 4 points in three games since returning on Feb. 9 as the Ducks begin a stretch of three games in four nights by hosting Washington on Wednesday.
Prior to the injury, Getzlaf was nearly a point-per-game player, collecting a 13-goal, 24-assist, 37-point stat line in 40 games. With the Ducks on an 8-2-0 run, Getzlaf figures to continue his pace and be a positive for fantasy owners.
Jonas Hiller— Anaheim Ducks, G
While Getzlaf is back, Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller
is back on IR. The All-Star goaltender has been dealing with fatigue and lightheadedness that forced him to miss three games before returning Sunday and earning a 12-save shutout in Edmonton. But with the symptoms recurring, the team decided to give him the next three games off and evaluate his status thereafter.
When he's healthy, Hiller has done nothing but impress. Of the four scoring categories for goaltenders, Hiller ranks in the Top 5 in three with 26 wins, a .925 save percentage and five shutouts.
Mike Green – Washington Capitals, D
While not posting the kind of numbers we've grown accustomed to, Green is still one of the premier blueliners in the League. But the Washington Capitals
have put him on hold for the time being to help him deal with an "inner ear trauma" sustained after being struck by a puck on Feb. 6 against Pittsburgh. The Capitals are in the midst of a five-game, eight-day road swing; though he doesn't feel healthy enough to play, Green is on the trip.
Through 48 games this season, Green has 8 goals, 16 assists, 24 points and 115 shots. As the Capitals enter the final third of the season, it's safe to expect Green to be a key contributor in the effort to finish strong.