Report: Marc Staal could miss part of Rangers’ Euro trip due to concussion issues

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.

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    Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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    OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

    The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

    Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

    The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

    Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

    Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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    TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

    The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

    “This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

    Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.