Radek Dvorak with a bad groin is like a thoroughbred with a bad hoof or a heavyweight boxer with a bad hand. In other words, not much good.
So, it's troubling that the Edmonton Oilers speedster is back on the shelf after less than one full game back in lineup after aggravating a tender groin in Tuesday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Devils.
Dvorak, 28, didn't skate with the Oilers yesterday morning, wasn't in the lineup against the Montreal Canadiens last night, he won't travel with the team to Vancouver today and there's no guarantee he'll be ready to play when the Calgary Flames come calling Monday.
"I was feeling pretty good when I was playing the game," Dvorak said after sitting out the morning skate yesterday. "I started feeling it again in the second period.
"On the last shift of the period, I was reaching for a puck and I kind of stretched myself and I felt the same pain I did (Dec. 5). From that time, it was very stiff. I couldn't move."
Originally injured when he fell into the boards at practice, Dvorak sat out the first two games of the Oilers' three-game road swing, in Philadelphia and Long Island, instead skating at Rexall Place.
The Oilers and Dvorak were cautious with the injury, but the groin went south again at the Meadowlands.
"You factor in all the things you need to when you're bringing a player back in as we did," coach Craig MacTavish said. "Would we have brought him into the game in New Jersey if he wasn't 100%? No.
"Especially faced with Vancouver, Calgary, Vancouver and then Los Angeles to finish (the pre-Christmas schedule). Based on the information we had and how he was skating here, we didn't view it as a risk."
The challenge now is making sure Dvorak doesn't come back too early and get into a situation where the injury nags him in the long term.
"It's too bad," MacTavish said. "He'll likely be out for (last) night and Saturday night for sure."
With Dvorak out, MacTavish elevated grinder Todd Harvey to left wing on the second line with Jarret Stoll and Raffi Torres last night.
After being a healthy scratch in six of the Oilers previous seven games, Krys Kolanos drew in on left wing on the fourth line with Marty Reasoner and Georges Laraque.
"I'm going to be doing the same stuff I was doing last week," said Dvorak, who worked out with Dr. Dave Magee and Kelly Buchberger while the Oilers jetted east. "Hopefully, things will go better this time. I want to be sure, 100%. I want to go on the ice and be confident. I know I have to give my groin more time.
"For my game, it's my speed. If I want to play my best game, I need good groins and everything."