Just a quick note: 2012 1st round pick Brady Skjei, currently on the top defense pairing at Minnesota, is week-to-week following a lower body injury. Skjei had put up 1-2-3 in 6 games with the top-ranked Golden Gophers prior to the injury.
Skeji is likely to turn pro following this season with Minnesota.
Per Darren Dreger, Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle, out since the opener with a broken hand, could return as soon as tomorrow. The Rangers could really use Boyle, who was signed to add some much-needed blue line scoring at even strength and on the powerplay. Mike Kostka has been the fill-in for Boyle, to mediocre results (0-1-1 in 7 GP with some horrible turnovers).
If/When Boyle comes back, Kostka is expected to sit, and that leaves just Ryan McDoangh as the only injured Rangers defenseman.
Per Andrew Gross, Dan Boyle, out since the season opener with a fractured right hand, was in a regular practice jersey this morning. He was skating with Tomas Kaberle, who is joining Ranger practices without a contract. Boyle may not play tomorrow, but it looks like he will be set to return next week. Considering the state of the blue line, his return can’t come soon enough.
The lines and defensive pairs were switched up a bit as well:
Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Martin St. Louis
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin-Dominic Moore-Lee Stempniak
Tanner Glass-Kevin Hayes-Anthony Duclair
Marc Staal-Kevin Klein
Conor Allen-Dan Girardi
Matt Hunwick-Mike Kostka
Boyle’s return would spell the end of Kostka in the lineup. It’s good to see Stepan back in the lineup too, but I don’t know if putting Glass with two rookies is the wisest move for the fourth line.
Per the Rangers Twitter, center Derek Stepan has been cleared for contact, and is wearing a normal colored jersey in practice today. Stepan has been out since the preseason with a broken fibula, and was eligible to return off LTIR today. While it is unlikely he is cleared to play tonight, he will likely be back in the lineup by this weekend.
As speculated last night, Ryan McDonagh suffered a separated left shoulder and will be out for 3-4 weeks. The fear here is that this is the same shoulder that sidelined him at the end of the regular season last year.
Kevin Klein suffered a foot contusion last night, blocking a shot with his left foot, and is considered day-to-day. He was seen on crutches but without his foot compressed. He obviously won’t play tomorrow, but hopefully this bone bruise heals quickly and he’ll come back in a week.
Time to see what the kids can do!
Per Steve Zipay, coach Alain Vigneault noted that injured center Derek Stepan, who fractured his fibula in training camp, has seen no setbacks and will be all good to come off LTIR next week. Stepan is first eligible to come off LTIR on 11/3, and it appears he will be good to go at some point that week. I wouldn’t expect him to be good for the 11/3 game against St. Louis, but maybe Wednesday against Detroit at home or Saturday in Toronto.
Forget Mike Kostka. The one-game experiment with the 28-year-old defender notwithstanding, the Rangers’ depth has been extremely impressive so far this season.
Derek Stepan and Dan Boyle are two enormous losses that most teams wouldn’t be able to withstand, but New York has weathered the storm remarkably well through seven games.
It hasn’t been easy.
Poor planning down the middle during the summer forced first Martin St. Louis and now Kevin Hayes into unnatural positions, but both players have done well learning on the fly. The center problem has been felt most at the faceoff dots, but that’s never been Stepan’s hallmark anyway. And though Stepan’s myriad of contributions obviously can’t be replaced, the absence of the No. 1 center has done nothing to affect the team’s primary scorers on the wing. Rick Nash is off to an unreal start, and rotating top-liners St. Louis and Chris Kreider have found the scoresheet early and often even without No. 21. Stepan has been missed more in the defensive end, but the entire team has been awful in its own zone thus far, so the subs would be hard to fault for that.
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After last night’s game, both Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein were both in need of stitches. Girardi took a shot off the ankle that needed to be stitched up, and Klein took a puck to the chin. Klein returned to the ice today for practice, while Girardi did not. Girardi is day-to-day, and there’s a chance he could miss tomorrow’s game against the New Jersey Devils. However, Girardi is made from robot parts, so I expect him to play.
Despite earlier reports that Tanner Glass may be out with a back injury, he will be in the lineup tonight against the shorthanded Columbus Blue Jackets. Jesper Fast, who blocked a shot awkwardly on Thursday, is also in the lineup. Both of these reports are per Andrew Gross. Cam Talbot gets the start.
Also, Matt Lombardi cleared unconditional waivers, and the Rangers will terminate his contract. This will give the Rangers much needed flexibility in the trade market.
Per Steve Zipay, winger Tanner Glass will be a game time decision with a back issue. Kevin Hayes, who is expected to be medically cleared to play, would replace Glass in the lineup.
If Hayes is cleared to play, the Rangers would need to send a contract to the AHL, as they would be over the 23 man max.
Also, Jesper Fast skated today after awkwardly blocking a shot. He’s not expected to miss any time.