When coach David Quinn indicated to reporters that some players were ‘banged up,’ he wasn’t kidding. Apparently, Marc Staal was one of those players. The veteran defenseman had minor surgery to repair an ankle infection that stemmed from what else but a blocked shot.
Staal will be out at least two weeks before being reevaluated. With a game tomorrow against the Panthers, the Rangers haven’t announced if they’re recalling someone. They’ll have to wait until later with Hartford playing Belleville tonight.
Of course, Quinn can always shift Brendan Smith back to his original position if someone has to come out of the lineup. Smith plays forward on the fourth line while working double duty as a defenseman on the penalty kill. For now, Brady Skjei will come back in tomorrow after sitting out his first game. We’ll see how he responds.
With Ryan Lindgren not giving the coach a reason to take him out, it’s a good bet that we’ll see a defense of Libor Hajek, Jacob Trouba, Skjei, Tony DeAngelo, Lindgren and Adam Fox. This is a opportunity to find out more about the younger blueline with Staal out. We’ll see how they do.
As for Staal, it just proves how misguided some of the fanbase can be. There are fools celebrating his injury because he’s not the same player he was. I’m not sure if they noticed. But the team won the last two games with Staal in the lineup. To be fair, that included Henrik Lundqvist making 45 saves at Carolina the other day.
The point is no matter what you feel for Staal, who’s only given his blood and guts for 13 years, being happy when a player is hurt is wrong. It’s classless and trashy. Childish behavior that’s been promoted in other spaces. The less said about it the better.
Given how hard Staal plays, it’s not a surprise that he played hurt. So too did former teammate Dan Girardi with an ankle that looked like a balloon under Alain Vigneault. The things heart and soul guys do to play is crazy. That’s the mentality of hockey players. They will play through pain. Not take games off for aches and pains like NBA superstars.
That’s why Staal has my respect. If you’re upset about the contract, take it out on Glen Sather. He also overpaid Lundqvist. That hasn’t helped either. For those celebrating his great game, remember one thing. He’s done it before the past couple of seasons. The key is being able to sustain it. The defense isn’t changing for him or Alexandar Georgiev. Neither are the forwards, who aren’t always in the right spot.
Good defense is about all five players. Not just the two defensemen as some would have you believe. Will they have more inconsistent performances that tax the goalies? Probably. At least number 18 won’t be blamed.