-- Injured Devils defenseman Paul Martin
looks at his pocket schedule every day and tries to target a return date. He believes he's less than two weeks away from getting back in the lineup.
The sad thing is he thought that two months ago as well.
"You always try to set a goal and unfortunately it keeps getting pushed back," Martin said Wednesday after participating in battle drills with select teammates for the first time since fracturing his left forearm Oct. 24.
When Bill Guerin
's shot slammed into Martin's forearm 4 1/2 months ago, Martin was told he would be out 4-6 weeks. Doctors told him he didn't require surgery, and that putting his arm in a cast would be good enough for it to heal properly.
They were wrong. Martin's forearm did not heal properly and he underwent surgery Dec. 22, right around the time he figured he was going to be back. He was selected to play for Team USA in the Olympics, but had to pass on the roster spot.
Now Martin feels he's realistic in thinking he could play in about a week and a half, preferably in the Devils' home game March 20 against St. Louis. Martin, though, didn't sound overly optimistic about even that, and you really can't blame him.
"I have to see the doc next week," said Martin, who sports a 6-7 inch scar on the inside of his left forearm. "The bone is pretty much all healed and good to go, so it's just going to be when the wrist is ready and strong enough to play."
His wrist is what is troubling him most now. He doesn't have enough range of motion yet, but he's been working on that for 2-3 hours a day with Gary Flink, a physical therapist in nearby Hackensack, N.J.
"If I don't get that range of motion it's tough to get the strength back," Martin said.
And without that strength, he can't lean his body into his slap shot. He's only able to send floaters on net now, which isn't good for someone who plays the point on the power play.
"It's tough because you need the bottom hand a lot for shooting, but I never could shoot that hard, anyway," Martin, a left-hand shot, jokingly said. "I'll just have to get it back to as good as I can until I can start playing."
He did battle drills Wednesday and spent extra time on the other end of the ice with assistant coach Tommy Albelin
working on his conditioning, but said that's about all he can handle for this week.
"It feels like I haven't done that (battle drills) for five months, which is the case," Martin said. "It's still weak. It needs to get stronger, but I see progress. It's not one of those things where each day it gets a lot better, it has some good days and bad days, but overall it's ultimately getting better."
The good news is Martin believes he'll be in a position to play right away when he gets cleared because he's done everything he can to keep his conditioning up.
"If it's strong enough to take the full shots and I don't have any issues with it, I think I'll be able to play right away," Martin said. "Right now I'm just trying to get everything else ready so this is the only thing that is limiting me."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl