Good news was tempered with bad news Friday at the Predators' practice facility, as the team provided updates on the injury status of goaltender Tomas Vokoun and center David Legwand. Vokoun, who injured his left knee while making a save on New York Rangers defenseman Darius Kasparaitis Thursday night, has been diagnosed with a sprained knee and is expected to miss one to two weeks. "We were afraid yesterday it was going to be torn cartilage and that would have been tough, especially for a goalie," Vokoun said, wearing a brace on his left leg. "It would maybe have needed surgery, and that would be maybe four weeks. So this is probably the best thing we could hope for in that bad situation."
The outlook for Legwand, who also injured his left knee in Thursday's game, isn't as bright. His scenario is the one Vokoun feared; the 6'2", 190-pound Detroit native will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Monday to repair torn cartilage in the knee and is expected to be out a month. "If you look at it, it didn't look like much happened there [when Legwand was injured], but it's the way he sort of hooked his leg on the guy...," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "He'll be missed, but other guys have to step up."
The Predators wasted little time in making a call to their American Hockey League affiliate in Milwaukee after Thursday's game, bringing up goaltender Brian Finley and center Kris Beech. "Last night, a quarter after 10," Beech said when asked when he first heard he was coming to Nashville. He and Finley took a morning flight from Milwaukee and participated in the Predators' 11 a.m. practice at Centennial Sportsplex.
"Obviously you never like to see anyone get injured, but from a personal standpoint it's nice to get called up," Finley said. "It's been a quick and a long day."
Finley, Nashville's first-round pick in 1999, was recently named the Koho/AHL Goaltender of the Month for November 2005 after going 5-0-0 with three shutouts, a 1.16 goals-against average and a .962 save percentage in six appearances. Beech, who coincidentally was selected by Washington one spot after Finley in the 1999 Entry Draft, currently leads Milwaukee in scoring with 22 points in 22 games.
"Right now I'm planning on [Beech] to either play with Kariya and Erat or Upshall and Hall," Trotz said. "Those two lines. I think I'll keep the Perreault line together, and we'll see how [Beech] does. He's got a great opportunity to play with either group."
"He's got very, very good vision," Trotz added. "He's a big man. He's got some good skill. He's put up offensive numbers in the American Hockey League for the last couple of years. We're going to put him in that role and see what he can do."
At the other end of the rink, Mason--who is 3-0-1 in five appearances for Nashville this season--will carry the load until Vokoun returns. "I sort of had a plan for Chris based on the next five weeks," Trotz said. "Looking at the schedule... I thought he was going to get one [game] a week for four or five games a month. That was the plan originally. Now he might get an extra three, four, five games on top of that. I think it will work out fine."
Vokoun clarified the bizarre turn of events at the start of the second period Thursday night that resulted in Mason assuming netminding duties with little to no warning. "I know when I hurt it," Vokoun said. "I hurt it on the play [Rangers defenseman Darius] Kasparaitis went across the net. First, I didn't want to leave in the middle of the period. Second of all, it wasn't that bad. I felt pain, but I guess the knee was kind of warm, it was moving around. Then I went to the dressing room and I thought, it's just a tweak and I'm going to stay in the game. I came out for the [warm-up routine] I do before every period, and I was trying to go to the half-butterfly and trying to stretch my leg and I couldn't do it. The pain was so severe, so I just said if you can't make a butterfly and you're goalie, you can't be in the game. I felt bad for [Mason], because I didn't say a word during the intermission because I had no idea it was going to be this bad. I came out on the ice and there was no way I could have played."
"We had no indication [that he was injured]," Trotz said. "It sort of caught us off guard a little bit. He came out for the second period, didn't say anything between periods to the trainers or to anybody. He went out there and felt it wasn't right and then came to the bench. It was a real tough spot for Chris to be in and it sort of caught us all off guard, and it showed in our play I think a little bit, unfortunately." The Predators lost 5-1 to the Rangers for only their third home defeat of the season.
Legwand was placed on the team's injured reserve list Friday. He joins teammates Greg Johnson, Danny Markov, Scott Walker and Scott Nichol on IR. Markov may return to action during the Predators' upcoming two-game trip to Florida, while Johnson is doubtful for both games. Neither Walker nor Nichol is expected to return to the lineup until January at the earliest, but both will be going to Florida with the team nonetheless. "This is a trip that we said we would take everybody on," Trotz said. "Tomas is going to make the trip with us and get treatments, and we're going to do that with all our guys. We've got a couple days off so we just wanted to keep everybody together."