The Washington Capitals’ goal of staying ahead of the New York Islanders in the battle for the second seed in the Metropolitan Division just got easier. The Rangers announced that forward Rick Nash and defenseman Marc Staal will miss New York’s game against Washington, which starts at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello is being regarded as a game-time decision.
For Nash and Staal, this will be the second straight game they’ve missed while Zuccarello is in danger of being absent for his third straight contest. Although the Rangers’ decision to scratch all three of them on Thursday was seen by many as an effort to rest some of their players before the start of the playoffs, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault insisted that all three of them were held out due to injuries.
While many players are presumably less than 100% at this point, the question is if those three would have been able to play on Thursday or today if needed. The Rangers have already clinched the Presidents’ Trophy, so the fact that three of their top players might be out this afternoon doesn’t really hurt them. It becomes a big issue though if Nash, Staal, and Zuccarello aren’t available for Game 1 of the first round.
The chances of at least some of them being ready for the playoffs is good though given that Nash said he “felt normal” after Friday’s skate and Zuccarello reported that he was feeling better, per the Bergen Record. Staal didn’t skate on Friday though.