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New York Paingers
Rangers Captain Ryan Callahan will be out of the line-up until 2014. (Photo by Chris Szagola – Landov)

New York Paingers

We’ve all been asked the age-old question “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” For Rangers fans, it’s “Do you want the bad news, the really bad news, or the depressing news?” The bad news is that Marc Staal is out indefinitely with a concussion. The really bad news is that Ryan Callahan will be out 4-6 weeks with a grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee. The depressing news is the Rangers have shown no spunk in their last two games, and Alain Vigneault has called his team out.

Marc Staal has suffered another concussion, and is out indefinitely. (Photo by Brad Penner – USA Today)

Marc Staal has suffered another concussion, and is out indefinitely.
(Photo by Brad Penner – USA Today)

The Bad News

-You may be saying to yourself, “Hey, wouldn’t Marc Staal, a guy with a concussion history, suffering another concussion, be the really bad news?” Initially, yes, that would be the reaction. But according to Alain Vigneault on Tuesday (courtesy of the NY Daily News):

“Marc has been diagnosed with a concussion here. “We’ve been advised by our doctors that they don’t feel it’s as serious as what he might have had in the past, so he’s feeling better, and we’ll take it day-by-day.”

When someone is going to be out “indefinitely”, it has that ominous feel to it, but it sounds like he could be back sooner than later. Staal suffered the injury this past Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils from a clean Reid Boucher hit. The Rangers rearguard missed 36 games of the 2011-12 season after a concussion in February of 2011 (he played the rest of the 2010-11 season). The Blueshirts blueline is deep, but you never want to lose a guy like Staal. If the Michael Del Zotto trade rumors were true, I would imagine that any chance of moving him has been delayed by this.

The Really Bad News

-Rangers Captain Ryan Callahan left Tuesday night’s game against the Nashville Predators midway through the first period. Callahan will be out 4-6 weeks with a Grade-2 MCL sprain in his left knee. While the Rangers have had to play games without their captain this season, losing his on-ice work ethic is always a blow, especially considering the team lacks “jump and jam” (to use a Peter Laviolette term) at the moment (more on that later). Even when he is cleared to return, it’s going to take a little time for him to feel completely comfortable skating on that knee. This also jeopardizes his spot for Team USA in the Olympics. If he’s back on the earlier end of the 4-6 week window, that improves his chances.

Alain Vigneault is less than thrilled with his team right now. (Photo by Bill Kostroun – AP)

Alain Vigneault is less than thrilled with his team right now.
(Photo by Bill Kostroun – AP)

The Depressing News

-John Tortorella never hid his disdain towards the press and he never offered up much in terms of a quote. Alain Vigneault is Larry King compared to Torts, and had this to say about the players-only meeting after Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Capitals:

“Without a doubt, our compete level is a .500 compete level. When the other team scores a goal, we don’t seem to have much of a push. You can talk all you want behind closed doors. It’s on the 200-by-85 rink that things are decided.”

Considering the Rangers are 14-2-1 when they score first and 1-14 when the other team lights the lamp first, he was spot on. After the Blueshirts dropped Tuesday night’s affair to the Predators 4-1, AV said that he didn’t have the personnel he wanted to play the style he wants. It’s not as if the players are unaware of their flatness. Brad Richards, one of the team leaders, said that “We are just floating along, and it’s getting old” after the Washington loss.

Injuries are always bad, but they create opportunities. Someone will need to step up in Ryan Callahan’s absence. The same can be said about Marc Staal. The Rangers addressed the latter on Wednesday by calling up defenseman Dylan McIlrath. The 21-year old Winnipeg-native was the 10th overall selection in the 2010 draft. He’ll bring size (6’5″ / 220lbs), and much-needed grit (he’s already amassed 115 penalty minutes in 24 games) to the blueline. He certainly won’t be expected to fill the void of Marc Staal, but maybe he can provide an edge that the rest of the team can feed off of. If that doesn’t work and things don’t change on the ice soon, Rangers GM Glen Sather will be spending a lot of time on the phone with other general managers.

Next up for the Rangers is the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night, where they’ll try and snap a three game losing streak. This will be the first game back at Madison Square Garden for former Rangers Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Tim Erixon. It will not be the first game back for Marian Gaborik, who is currently on injured reserve.
Adam Bernard
I'm a seasoned veteran in the sports media field and a lifelong Rangers fan (hoping to relive 1994 at some point - I couldn't fully appreciate a championship at 11 years old). Hockey dominates my life for the most part: I also root for the Blackhawks & Kings, I've been lucky enough to split season tickets for the Blueshirts with a good friend since the lockout, and I'm a defenseman on a local roller hockey team. Away from the rink, I enjoy hiking, hard rock music, and spending time with my dog Astro.
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