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Boyle practices through pain, closer to full return
Lightning de-fenseman Dan Boyle returned to practice Monday morning - albeit with significant pain in his recovering left wrist - participating in shooting, passing and puck-handling drills with teammates for the first time in more than a month.
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published October 23, 2007
Dan Boyle hadn't practiced in a month after cutting three tendons in his left wrist.
TAMPA - Lightning de-fenseman Dan Boyle returned to practice Monday morning - albeit with significant pain in his recovering left wrist - participating in shooting, passing and puck-handling drills with teammates for the first time in more than a month.
When Boyle suffered a freak locker-room incident after a preseason game Sept.22 - one of his skate blades fell and severed three tendons in his wrist - doctors estimated he would miss four to six weeks. Once Boyle saw Dr. Richard Gray, the hand specialist who conducted surgery, after Saturday's game, he was cleared to participate in practice with the exception of contact drills.
Boyle, the team's top defenseman and quarterback of the power play, said he still felt an occasional "sharp pain" in the wrist during practice Monday. After he wore a cast for four weeks, the wrist needs to be strengthened, but Boyle said the pain won't delay his return.
"Whenever the doctors say I'm ready to go, I'll play through the pain," said Boyle, his left wrist heavily wrapped. "The pain is the least of my worries. I just need the comfort of knowing I'm safe to go out there."
Boyle had a breakout season last year, reaching career highs in goals (20) and points (63) while ranking second in the league in total ice time.
"I have to get my strength back," Boyle said, "so there will be some pain there for a while. I'll just keep practicing and try to get comfortable."
Lightning coach John Tortorella said Boyle will likely resume contact drills in the middle of this week. Tampa Bay plays its first back-to-back games of the season Wednesday at Washington and Thursday at home against Philadelphia. Boyle could return Saturday, when Tampa Bay hosts Buffalo.
Tortorella said Boyle's return isn't far off.
"I like what he did (Monday) in practice," Tortorella said. "We're going to give him a couple days to get on the ice and practice and get with the speed of the game. ... Once he starts feeling comfortable and gets in the flow of things, I think it will come pretty quickly.
"I'm not worried about him," he said. "I think he's such an efficient guy and such a competitor."
Boyle is a right-handed shooter, so when both hands are on his stick, his right hand does most of the work. But with his injury, anything done with just the left hand, such as poke checking, becomes burdensome until the wrist becomes stronger.
"I don't think there will be any problem," Tortorella said. "The doctors are really happy about it. It's just a matter of Danny feeling comfortable with it. And I think once he gets going and starts getting involved and starts seeing some games that maybe he could play, he'll jump in. He'll be ready to go."
ODDS AND ENDS: Center Ryan Craig, on the injured list all season with a herniated disc that kept him out most of the preseason, participated in full practiced for the first time. He appeared to be skating well. ... Fans attending Saturday's game against Buffalo are encouraged to wear pink for the Lightning's "Pink Night Out" in honor of breast cancer survivors. Fans will receive pink Thunderstix.