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Boyle's return seems imminent



Dan Boyle traveled to Baltimore to have his wrist checked by Thomas Graham, chief of the National Hand Center, who performed the second surgery on his injured left wrist tendons. With Boyle in his 10th week of recovery after the Nov. 9 procedure, and with the window for recovery anywhere from eight to 12 weeks, it is not a stretch to believe the puck-moving defenseman is getting a final MRI before he is cleared to play.

How soon will he be back? Perhaps next week, when the Lightning on Tuesday faces the Oilers and on Thursday the Senators at the St. Pete Times Forum. The Jan. 25-27 All-Star break would give Boyle a rest after that action, though the Lightning could wait till after the break to give Boyle a little more time.

The only word from the Lightning was that Boyle is "progressing nicely'' and that there is no timetable for his return.

Boyle has been skating since the end of December.

"He looks good,'' coach John Tortorella said. "But I don't want to hear about percentages. I just want to know when he can play. And he'll play.''

This can only be good news for Tampa Bay which certainly misses the puck-rushing element Boyle brings to the table. At the very least it will fee some of the defensive emphasis on the top line if there is another weapon that has to be watched.

Beyond his obvious frustration at not being able to play, this is a critical season for Boyle, who needs playing time to help ressurect his value. The Ottawa native can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Before the injury he was expected to try for a contract worth between $6-million and $7-million.

As for tonight's game against the Penguins, Johan Holmqvist will be in net.


[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]


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