Following last night’s game, the Rangers lost two forwards to injuries during a 4-2 defeat to the Islanders in Brooklyn. Both Matt Puempel and Rick Nash left the game and sustained injuries that will keep them out of action for the time being.
Puempel suffered a concussion on a Brock Nelson high-sticking double minor. According to coach Alain Vigneault, he will undergo concussion protocol. What that means is it’s anyone’s guess how many games he could miss. Head injuries are tricky. Considering how he was helped off the ice and wobbly, I would be shocked to see Puempel any time soon.
As for Nash, he left the game when he cut a shift short in the second period. After about 10 seconds, he went to the locker room and didn’t return. Later, Vigneault revealed that he tweaked a groin. After underdoing an MRI, it revealed that he’ll miss a week of action.
Hopefully, that is all because he’s been the Rangers’ hottest player lately. Considering that they’re already without Mika Zibanejad (broken fibula) and Pavel Buchnevich (back), their depth is being severely tested. The injuries have hurt the production of Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller. All have seen hit scoring slumps. Meanwhile, feel good story Brandon Pirri has disappeared completely. He enters tomorrow night’s game at Winnipeg with no points in the last 10. It basically coincides with Zibanejad’s injury. He’s out another month.
With the team depleted up front, the Rangers recalled forward Nicklas Jensen from Hartford. With Marek Hrivik already up and playing last night along with Oscar Lindberg seeing an increased role with 15 minutes, it looks like the Ranger lines could be very different. Vigneault will have to get very creative with his bottom combos for the third and fourth lines.
At least leading goalscorer Michael Grabner is expected to return. He is gonna meet the team in Winnipeg. He missed last night’s game to be at his grandmother’s funeral back home in Austria. Our deepest condolences to the Grabner family.
It will be up to the leaders who have been around to step up. Derek Stepan is right at the top along with Zuccarello, Miller, Hayes and Chris Kreider. The interesting part is you have some third-year players who are part of the core. That includes Jesper Fast. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond.