The New York Rangers earned a 3-2 win over Detroit Saturday afternoon. That’s important from a seeding perspective, but that victory came at a potential cost as Eric Staal left the game due to what initially looked like it might be a head injury.
You can see below that teammate Jesper Fast appeared to accidentally hit Staal in the head:
After the game though, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault downplayed Staal’s absence as being a precautionary measure.
“He should be fine,” Vigneault said, per the Rangers’ Twitter feed.
It’s not hard to see the logic in keeping Staal out regardless of his condition following the hit. The Rangers had secured their playoff spot prior to Saturday’s contest, so there’s no reason to push Staal if there’s even the slightest chance that he might be less than 100%.
That’s especially true because while, as stated at the top, winning today did impact the Rangers from a seeding perspective, you could debate whether or not that’s a positive. The Rangers now hold the third seed in the Metropolitan Division and the Islanders would need to earn three of a possible four points this weekend to change that.
The third Metropolitan Division seed leads to a series against the Pittsburgh Penguins though, while the alternative – the first Wild Card seed – will feature a first round matchup against the Florida Panthers. Pittsburgh is by far the hotter team when compared to Florida, has more star power, and holds the better record, albeit by a slim margin.
That being said, at least the Rangers are entering the playoffs on a winning note.