Steven Anthony is inching closer to returning to the Saint John Sea Dogs’ lineup, and it couldn’t come at a more important time.
The Sea Dogs are preparing to open the best-of-seven QMJHL final against the provincial rival Moncton Wildcats starting tomorrow on home ice at Harbour Station.
Anthony, a forward from Halifax, appeared in just four of the Sea Dogs’ 15 games as they cruised through the opening three playoff rounds with relative ease. Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant called Anthony “questionable” for the series opener after watching him return to the ice at practice on Tuesday.
“We’re hoping to have him ready, but we’re not 100 per cent sure yet,” Gallant said.
Anthony, a Vancouver Canucks seventh-round pick known for his offensive ability, had a terrific start to the season with 35 points in his first 38 games. But he sputtered down the stretch and has recorded just two points in his past 21 games.
Gallant said Anthony was “hampered” initially by playing through the groin injury and that a bad bout of the flu in January “wore him out.”
“The second half of the season was really tough for him,” Gallant said.
Because he has appeared in just four games over a stretch of almost a month and a half, Gallant said Anthony will be eased back into the lineup.
“We definitely won’t push him, but Steven’s a big part of our team,” Gallant said.
“He was one of our best players the first 30 games before he ran into injury problems.
“We’d obviously like to have him back to that but it’s not going to happen in one game.”