When Jarret Stoll was knocked out of the second round by Raffi Torres, the Kings sorely missed him on the penalty kill and in the faceoff circle.
But after a week of doing nothing but waiting for the headaches to subside, things began looking up. Stoll has gradually increased his activity from bike riding, to skating, to light practice without any setbacks. Here's the full timeline of his progress:
- May 14 - Suffers concussion
- May 22 - Rides bike after eight days of inactivity
- May 23 - Rides bike again
- May 24 - Skates for 15 minutes
- May 25-30 - Practices with the team (no contact)
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Stoll hadn't been cleared for contact yet. The third line center acknowledged the need to be cautious, though he also said the concussion wasn't as severe as the one that kept him out for 30 games in 2007.
"I've done this before, earlier on in my career, so I know how it feels and what's right and what's not, if I'm off or back to normal or not," he said. "So just day by day."
Could Stoll be ready by Saturday?
Pierre LeBrun caused a stir when he speculated Stoll might be back as soon as Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, "barring any setbacks."
So will Stoll be ready? If we had some sign that he'd been cleared for contact, we might be more optimistic. But today's practice saw no contact either. We will see what happens Friday.
After practice today, Sutter refused to answer questions about whether Stoll will be in the lineup.
"I have no further update on Jarret Stoll, and there won’t be any update on him unless you give us an update on somebody from Chicago." -- LA Kings Insider
There's an advantage in keeping the Blackhawks guessing. But it keeps us guessing, too.
Boost to the Kings
How would his return alter the Kings' game plan? For one, he's their top faceoff man. Anze Kopitar has taken on far more defensive zone faceoffs in Stoll's absence. While Kopitar is a solid defensive player capable of handling that task, it doesn't help him in the scoring department. Top centers generally get sent out for more draws in the offensive zone. That matters even more when the Kings are reliant on their top six for most of their scoring.
As a third line center, Stoll was very effective this season at limiting scoring chances against when partnered with Trevor Lewis. Lewis would shift back to wing, and Toffoli could move down to the fourth line.
For now, I'm going to assume Stoll won't be in Game 1--and I wouldn't want him to rush it, either, however tempting that may be. But it does sound like we will see him back soon. That's very good.
When do you think he'll return?