Tonight’s exhibition game against the New Jersey Devils might be a momentous occasion for some New York Rangers fans, as it will mark the debut of the Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik combo. While that preseason contest should provide a preview of their offensive future, the outlook for the team’s defense is a little muddy.
That’s because their crucial shutdown blueliner Marc Staal is still dealing with concussion issues that many believe resulted from a crushing check delivered by his brother Eric Staal late last season. Marc was supposed to practice today, but he instead opted to see specialists regarding his struggles with post-concussion syndrome. That situation is shaky enough that Rangers head coach John Tortorella acknowledged the possibility that Staal might not travel with the team to Europe on Monday.
The Rangers will finish their preseason schedule overseas and then start their season in Stockholm, Sweden on Oct. 7. They’ll play the Los Angeles Kings that night and then the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 8.
The goal is to get Staal ready for that Oct. 7 game, although it’s still a touch-and-go situation.
Friday, Tortorella admitted he has no idea how the next 72 hours or so will play out with Staal.
“It depends. Like I said, we’re trying to get him straightened out for the regular season,” Tortorella said. “We feel the specialists that he’s seeing now are going to speed that up. So, if he doesn’t make the first plane, he could come over the next day. We just haven’t gotten that far. He’s done a lot of testing, a lot of things over the past two days, and is doing it now. So we’ll find out more as we go into [Saturday] and Sunday.”
No doubt about it, Staal is a huge part of the Rangers defense. He averaged a stunning 25:44 minutes per game last season, compiling 29 points and playing sturdy defense on his way to his first career All-Star appearance. Losing him for an extended amount of time would be a significant blow to a New York defense that is top-heavy.
We’ll keep a lookout for updates during this weekend and as their regular season opener approaches.
The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.
Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.
Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.
“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.
Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.
The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.
The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.
In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.
Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.
In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.
Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.
Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Insert the ‘It’s not how you start but how you finish’ cliche right here.
The Philadelphia Flyers fell behind the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, as Zach Parise was the beneficiary of a Steve Mason mistake just 2:07 into the first period.
Mason couldn’t control the deflection into the zone, coughing up a rebound in front. Eric Staal forced a loose puck to Parise and he buried it to open the scoring.
Yeah, not ideal for the Flyers, who are still clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes.
But they responded with three unanswered goals, including this beauty from Sean Couturier.
Philadelphia took over for a 3-1 victory, with Mason making 24 saves on 25 shots, as Minnesota’s struggles continue. The Wild still sit second in the Central Division but have only two wins in their last 10 games.
Well, that was quite a third period.
For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.
Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.
The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.
Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.
And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.
Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)
The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.
Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.
The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.
The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.