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февраля 2004 года.
Yashin tries to grip it and rip it in practice - Newsday
BY LAURA PRICE-BROWN
The days of solitary skating are mostly behind him now.
Alexei Yashin can only hope the radar gun reads as high as it used to on his righthanded shot.
The Islanders' star center practiced with his teammates for the first time since the frightening accident of Dec. 23, when the skate blade of Philadelphia's Michal Handzus sliced through Yashin's right forearm as if it were tofu.
The damaged tendons and nerve repaired, his rehabilitation nearly complete, Yashin spent much of yesterday morning flipping wrist shots into a net after the team had adjourned to the IceWorks locker room.
"My shot is still weak . . . it takes time to get it back," Yashin said. "I've tried to work with the doctors and the coaches to make sure I can handle the puck as quickly as possible and get some shots."
Whether Yashin's shot - his most dangerous asset - regenerates enough for him to regain his status as a 30-to-40 goal scorer is a question only time and his healing capability can answer.
"Will he be able to snap it as hard as he could? Maybe not, but if he can only do it at 95 percent with the way he shoots the puck, then 95 percent is better than a lot of guys in this league, so it still will be pretty good," Islanders coach Steve Stirling said.
Stirling estimated Yashin might rejoin the team in a week. The Islanders are 3-1-3 since the All-Star break, 9-3-4-1 in their past 17 games and 6-0-2 at Nassau Coliseum heading into tonight's game against the Boston Bruins.
Those promising streaks were compiled without Yashin and Mark Parrish, two of the Islanders' best offensive players. Parrish, who sustained a high ankle sprain on New Year's Day, might return tonight.
"I just don't want to mess things up. They're playing so well without me and Yash, I'm not so sure they're looking forward to having us back," Parrish joked about his teammates.
Stirling never would wish for life without goal scorers, but he admitted some players eventually will feel the sting of fewer minutes when he clears room for Parrish and Yashin.
"As long as they're prepared to come back and work hard and do the kinds of things we've done pretty well lately, it's probably the most important thing for me," Stirling said. "If they don't do it, then I think there would be a chemistry problem. But if they do it, I think it will be OK."
Stirling said he may play Yashin on a wing for a while to prevent him from taking faceoffs and to spare him the physical work needed deep in the zone until he is up to speed. Oleg Kvasha moved from left wing to center when Yashin went down and has flourished. Kvasha is the team's third-leading scorer (12-27-39) behind linemate Mariusz Czerkawski and rookie Trent Hunter.
The scoring balance and recent success cushion Yashin's timetable for a return.
"Most important is whenever it's ready it's going to be ready. It takes
some time," he said. "Guys have been playing great lately and hopefully
we can continue to do that."
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