“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.
For the New York Rangers, we pick … defenseman Marc Staal.
No shortage of candidates for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist is in a contract year, on the verge of becoming the highest-paid goalie in the NHL. Alain Vigneault is the new head coach after John Tortorella was fired. Everyone knows Brad Richards needs to bounce back.
But for us, Staal’s is the most compelling story after the serious eye injury he suffered in March. The 26-year-old is a huge part of New York’s blue line and is also in the running to play for Team Canada at the Olympics.
You may recall that Staal’s postseason return lasted just one game before he put his comeback on hold. Fortunately, he says now that “the perception, what I’m seeing on the ice, has [gotten] way better than when I was trying to come back in the playoffs.”
If Staal can get back to playing 20-plus minutes a night against tough competition, not only will the Rangers benefit from all the things he does well on the ice, it should also lessen the load on the team’s other top blue-liners, like Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto.
“Training camp’s going to be important for me to not only get physically ready but mentally on the ice,” Staal said. “Getting comfortable and getting the speed and the intensity in skates and bringing that into the exhibition games and into the season.”
For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.
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:
Former NHL defenseman Mike Commodore may have been coached by Mike Babcock, but that doesn’t mean he’s a fan of Mike Babcock.
Commodore played in just 17 games for the Detroit Red Wings during the 2011-12 season and that was enough for him to muster up some pretty harsh feelings toward his old coach.
As Babcock’s new team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, were being embarrassed in Detroit on Friday, Commodore took to Twitter to show fans just how much he was enjoying his former coach’s struggles.
Things got especially interesting after Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin scored just 20 seconds into the second period to give Detroit a 3-0 lead.
“3-0 nothin Babs you posing arrogant piece of (bleep),” said Commodore via his Twitter page. “Welcome back to the rink where everyone that met you hates you.”
Commodore wasn’t done there:
And there was much, much more.
To get a look at all of Commodore’s Babcock-bashing tweets, click here.