|Tim Connolly (photo: Getty Images) |
Each day the Sabres play the same waiting game. Each practice brings new hope that Tim Connolly will be able to return to the Sabres lineup after missing the last 11 games due to a very painful bone spur in his hip.
But the ambiguous nature of Connolly's injury doesn't permit a concrete medical analysis, so the Sabres and Connolly continue to skate and wait, skate and wait.
"As long as the pain doesn't worsen, the injury won't worsen," said Connolly. "It's just something that I have to keep an eye on and something that I just have to keep the medical staff informed.
"I'm nowhere near 100 percent. My one leg is a lot weaker than the other, and therefor, I have a lot of muscles compensating. It's just something where I've got to push it right to the limit and then bring it back."
The center will have surgery to repair the injury following the season. According to Connolly, a mid-season procedure is out of the question as it would put him in very real danger of missing the remainder of 2007-08.
"First and foremost, I want to play," said Connolly. "Right now, I'm going to try and play, and see what happens."
The waiting game is making the determination of a timetable very difficult.
"It's possible, but not likely," said head coach Lindy Ruff of Connolly playing as early as sometime this weekend. "I've talked to Tim everyday on where he's at and how he feels. [This weekend] is a possibility but we're going to keep addressing that day to day.
"You could ease him maybe into a special-teams situation; use him on the power play or use him penalty killing. I don't think you can ease anyone into a five-on-five situation."
There is a small risk that Connolly could worsen the injury by pushing himself too hard. The indicator being the level of pain he experiences.
"The initial pain is a lot worse with say a torn MCL," said Connolly, who suffered that exact injury two seasons ago after being undercut by Darius Kasparaitis. He is now forced to wear a knee brace on his left leg.
"This is something that you constantly feel. It's something where when you're skating, obviously, it's going to hurt a little bit more. When I'm lying down and resting, I it's not too bad but when you're in a sitting position it can get pretty painful after a while."
"Deep down, I feel bad for where he's at because it's been a none stop episode from even getting back from the stress fractures last season to his earlier injury with the back of his arm," said Ruff. "It's been one thing after another."