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‘Wiser’ Blackwood Handling Injuries Differently With Sharks Than He Did With Devils

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Credit: Dean Tait/Hockey Shots

This time around, Mackenzie Blackwood is handling his injuries differently.

Over the last two years with the New Jersey Devils, Blackwood has been beset by groin, heel, and sprained MCL injuries, appearing in just 47 games. Also, in the summer of 2021, he had ankle surgery.

So the San Jose Sharks netminder knew he had to deal with his most recent groin injury, suffered last Tuesday against the Devils, carefully, even if the injury is, according to him, “very mild”. Blackwood reported himself yesterday as “almost healed” in his second day back on the ice since he left the New Jersey game, and it sounds like he could be back as soon as this week.

Careful though, means not rushing himself back, like he did after his ankle surgery.

“At the time when I had my big ankle thing, they were struggling, I wasn’t ready to play. I thought I wasn’t ready, but they thought it was fine,” Blackwood shared.

He was quick to clarify though that he wasn’t forced back into action by the Devils.

“I’m not saying anything [they did]. It’s just one of those things where if I could have hindsight, I would have waited a lot longer,” he said. “It was conversations. We talked about it together. Obviously, you can always say no. It was one of those conversations we had where it’s probably not going to get worse if you keep going, but it might take longer to get back to 100.”

Blackwood’s ankle may not have got worse, but his play appears to have suffered.

From his rookie 2018-19 campaign to 2020-21, Blackwood had a .911 Save % in 105 games. After ankle surgery and other injuries, he had an .893 Save % in 47 games, which ushered in his trade to the San Jose Sharks this past summer.

“If you play on something that’s not 100 percent comfortable, you start compensating, and everything else falters. I’m wiser and older now. You know when you’re capable of doing something,” he said. “The older you get, the more you can kind of put your foot down.”

Blackwood has learned his lesson.

“This one, it’s not bad,” he said of his current injury. “I’ll wait until it’s fully healed. I don’t think I’ll have that situation ever again.”

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