The St. John’s IceCaps are expected to have their top defencemen and MVP from last year in the lineup this weekend when Paul Postma returns from a nagging leg injury.
Postma was among those IceCaps to board an Air Canada jet Thursday as St. John’s headed out for a five-game American Hockey League road trip beginning tonight in Portland, Me., against the Pirates.
The IceCaps, idle since last Sunday in a 2-0 loss to the Norfolk Admirals, have three games in three nights. The team heads to Worcester, Mass., Saturday for a game against the Sharks before hooking up with the Bruins in Providence, R.I. in a Sunday afternoon matinee.
The trip continues next Wednesday against the Monarchs in Manchester, N.H. and winds up next Saturday in Hershey, Pa., against the Bears.
The IceCaps are a mediocre 4-4 so far this season, splitting a trio of homestands against the Adirondack Phantoms, the Pirates and Admirals.
The IceCaps have been shut out twice in their last three home games. In addition to the 2-0 loss to Norfolk last Sunday, St. John’s dropped a 4-0 decision to Portland last Wednesday.
In the two games last weekend, St. John’s went a combined one-for-11 on the power play. Overall, St. John’s is ranked 18th in the 30-team AHL with the man advantage.
That might change given Postma’s return to the lineup. While Zach Redmond and Derek Meech have done yeoman service on the power play in Postma’s absence, it was the lanky defenceman from Red Deer, Alta., who quarterbacked the PP last season, and the defenceman who helped spark an offence from the back end.
Postma, who registered 13 goals and 31 points in only 44 games last season and signed an NHL contract with the Winnipeg Jets over the summer (he’s currently on an AHL contract during the lockout), injured his leg during training camp in Corner Brook.
He was listed as day-to-day and was expected to return to the lineup following the IceCaps season-opening, two-game road trip against the Springfield Falcons and Connecticut Whale.
But he re-aggravated the injury in practice which meant a lengthier stay on injured reserve, eight games in total.
Ray Sawada, who has also yet to play this season, and Jason King, who missed the series against the Admirals, travelled with the team Thursday and are listed as day-to-day.
Patrice Cormier did not make the trip and the news isn’t as good with him. The robust forward is expected to be out of the lineup four to six weeks.
In the meantime, forward Ryan Schnell was activated this week and immediately reassigned to Colorado of the ECHL.
Schnell did not play a regular season game after suffering concussion-like symptoms after a hit against the Syracuse Crunch in the IceCaps’ first pre-season exhibition game in Corner Brook.