Roe returns, three-in-threes galore 2/14
Garrett Roe is not one of them — at least not this weekend.
The center is slated to return to the Adirondack Phantoms line-up after missing 15 of the team’s last 17 games with two separate upper-body injuries. He was first injured in Adirondack’s Dec. 28 game at Providence, but returned two weeks later – right after the Phantoms lost a slew of guys to the NHL.
That’s a bit of good timing, right? After spending the team’s first 30 or so games as a healthy scratch or a bottom-six forward, Roe could slot right into the team’s top six and help ease the loss of Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier. After all, he scored 40 points as a rookie with the Phantoms last season.
That was the plan, but Roe suffered another injury in his second game back. He's missed 11 in a row.
“I thought I maybe caught a lucky break there just with the timing, coming back when I did the first time,” Roe said after the Phantoms practiced Thursday at the Civic Center. “Injuries happen. I’ve never really been injured in my life. It’s been a little tough the last two months or so. I’ve only played (one game) and change in two months. That’s frustrating. You get bored. You find yourself thinking about things. I’m excited to get back. I’m excited to get going and I couldn’t be happier to play three-in-three this weekend.”
One of the main reasons Roe is excited is that his return will break up the monotony of the past month. Roe has never missed an extended period of time due to injury. He sat out all of four games during his 40-point rookie campaign, and some of that was due to him contracting bronchitis. This was largely new.
“When you’re on the ice, you’re going through four days of practice, then two games and a day off,” Roe said. “It’s different every day, pretty much. For me, every day was rehab, conditioning and maybe a workout for six days and a day off. It just gets repetitive.”
The Phantoms hope Roe can repeat some of the offensive production he had during his rookie season.
“He’s a skilled player who can make plays and can really help in the offensive part of the game,” Phantoms coach Terry Murray said. “Obviously, that’s an area that we’re short in. Our numbers show that and any time you can add a player with his caliber of play with the puck, it’s going to make other players better. It’s going to create offense and it gives you an opportunity to win games more consistently.”
One of the good things about the nature of Roe’s upper-body injury is that it allowed him to keep doing off-ice workouts and conditioning. He was able to keep his legs going throughout the process, Murray said, and that’s not necessarily something that can be said with lower-body injuries. Accordingly, the coach doesn’t think it will take Roe all that much time to get back to “peak performance” on the ice.
“He’s ready to go,” Murray said. “He had three days of pretty good practice and feels comfortable in all the competitive drills – the pushing, shoving – so he’s good.”
Roe spent Thursday’s practice on the team’s top line with Jon Sim and Jason Akeson. He also centered the team’s No. 1 power play unit, which had Sim and David Laliberte at wing and Akeson and Danny Syvret at the point. There were some shifts that had Akeson, not Roe, at center and Brandon Manning in his place.
“He’s going in full-bore,” Murray said of Roe. “He’s (got the) green light. He’s on a line that’s going to play a lot in critical situations and special teams. There’s no time to wade into the game and feel it out. You have to get in there and get going.”
More on the three-in-three in tomorrow's paper. The Phantoms have largely been spared from playing three-in-threes this season, but that's about to change. They have four in a row, and then will play seven games in 14 days. So it's not about to get any easier for them.
“You can’t think too much about it,” Phantoms defenseman Brandon Manning said. “If you start worrying about ‘I’m tired’ or ‘I haven’t had enough sleep’ or whatever else – just start making excuses for yourself – that’s when you back off. Guys start letting off because you have a built-in excuse. When you have a built-in excuse, you think there’s a reason you’re allowed to lose and it goes to your head mentally.”
I'll be back before the Albany game tomorrow with all the relevant line combinations. Looks like the Devils may have Mattias Tedenby back in the line-up. Andrei Loktionov, who Terry Murray coached in Los Angeles, has joined the Devils in trade and is back in the AHL after a brief stint in New Jersey.
Also, things aren't looking good for the Rangers-to-Glens Falls rumor.
Until next time,