Marc Staal

Rangers’ Staal resumes skating

An encouraging development out of New York regarding the health of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal: ESPN New York’s Katie Strang reports that Staal has started skating at the Rangers’ practice facility in Westchester.

Staal had been in shutdown mode (per doctor’s orders) since Oct. 16 after attempting to return from a concussion suffered on a hit from his brother, Eric.

On Nov. 18, concussion specialist Dr. Robert Cantu gave Staal the green light to resume limited physical activity — light workouts and stationary biking — which in itself was a big development. Staal had been plagued by exertion-related headaches after workouts, so medical clearance was a big first step in his recovery.

Returning to the ice was another key step. And while Strang notes it’s a “significant [one] in Staal’s lengthy road to recovery,” it’s believed he’s still a long way from returning to game action.

Translation: Don’t expect him in the lineup when New York travels to Philadelphia for the Winter Classic.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: