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Zubrus practices with team

Wednesday, 01.20.2010 / 5:53 PM / News
By Eric Marin
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Zubrus practices with team
Zubrus is back on the ice with the Devils.
Dainius Zubrus took one more step toward a return to action Wednesday, when he practiced with the team for the first time in two months.

Zubrus has missed 27 games since taking a shot off his leg at Nashville on Nov. 19. He skated between Andrew Peters and Ilkka Pikkarainen in Wednesday's morning skate and had positive news to report afterward.

"(I feel) pretty good, considering," Zubrus said. "I’m very excited to come back and be a part of the locker room again. It’s been two months, which is the longest stretch I’ve ever had with injuries. But it’s an exciting time for me."

He had gotten off to a strong start in his first 20 games, tallying two goals and five assists before he was hit with the biggest injury of his 13-year career.

"You’re always disappointed when things like that happen," he said. "I don’t think there was that much that I could’ve done differently to avoid it. Unfortunate things happen and you deal with it. Once I got my surgery done and the doctors were happy with it, I needed to stay positive and my goal was to come back in better shape than I was when I got hurt. I’ve been working hard with the trainers doing my rehab. Now I think it’s a matter of skating with the guys and getting back to game shape."

No timetable has been announced for his return to the lineup, but the team will continue to carefully monitor his progress. When healthy, his 6-5, 225-lb. frame adds major size and strength for the Devils up the middle.

"He looks good," said head coach Jacques Lemaire. "We’ll have better practices this week so he’ll be involved in those practices. After the week, we’ll look again and see where he stands, how he feels."

Zubrus wasn't immediately certain that the slapshot from Predators' defenseman Kevin Klein had done any damage.

"Obviously it hurt," he recalled. "I remember myself getting hit and going down from taking a shot, but then you get up. (This time) I knew that something was not all that good. A lot of time during the game, you get a shot in the foot or something and you put some ice on it, and 10 minutes later it feels much better and you’re back in the game. I was kind of hoping that would be the case. It wasn’t."

He explained that if there's a chance they might return to a game, players keep a skate or pad on to prevent an injury from swelling.

"There’s a lot of times it’s painful. You take a shot in the ankle and you’re thinking, ‘Oh no, I can’t put any weight on it,’" he said. "Then you go to the bench and give it 3-5 minutes. The important thing is, don’t take your equipment off. Keep it all tight, keep the compression then you come back five minutes later."

At the time, he didn't rule out getting back on the ice. One of the most durable Devils, Zubrus had not missed a game in two seasons since signing with New Jersey in 2007.

"I’ve been hit before and was hoping I could come back," he said. "You go off the ice, I thought I would miss a few (minutes) and be back out there. The longer it went, the worse it was getting. Right there, we took some X-rays right there that weren’t so great."

The shot dented the cap of his right shinguard, but didn't crack it. Nevertheless, Zubrus said he's considering a new pair.

"These are pretty old," he said. "They mold to your leg after years of use. That’s the most comfortable you feel and that’s what you keep for games. I think I’ll be upgrading my shin pads a little bit quicker these days."

He continued: "The whole shin pad bent all the way to my knee and damaged the knee. More than anything, I think it’s just unfortunate because I don’t think I’ve seen that, ever. I’ve never heard of it in more than 10 years of being in the League."

Excited to be this close to 100 percent, Zubrus isn't ready to set a target date just yet.

"I think right now, we’re trying to give it the best rest we can get," he said. "I don’t think we’re looking too far ahead. We’re just going to see how it’ll be in the next three to four days. We’ll see. We need to test it, and it’s tough because there’s so many games that it’s not easy to get a practice with the guys. But we’ll try to practice as much as I can. So far, it’s been good: no setbacks, nothing. It feels like I’m improving every day."




1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31


A. Henrique 40 10 16 -1 26
J. Jagr 43 9 16 -10 25
M. Cammalleri 35 15 6 -3 21
P. Elias 37 6 14 -14 20
M. Zidlicky 47 4 16 -7 20
M. Ryder 42 6 12 -2 18
T. Zajac 39 8 8 -7 16
S. Gomez 23 4 12 -5 16
S. Bernier 32 6 7 1 13
M. Havlat 29 5 7 -10 12
C. Schneider 16 19 4 .920 2.41
K. Kinkaid 1 3 3 .913 2.54