Rangers get good news, Shestyorkin has mild groin strain, Kakko to return Saturday

The news is better than expected on goalie Igor Shestyorkin. After leaving last night’s game with less than six minutes left in the third period, it looked like a potentially serious injury. He was helped off the ice.

However, the Rangers got good news on the starting goalie who made 32 saves in a 6-1 win over the Devils. After learning more about his leg injury suffered with 5:52 left, it turns out he suffered a mild groin strain. Rather than being out long-term, the team announced that Shestyorkin is “day-to-day.”

Phew. That’s a relief. Especially when Shestyorkin looked to be in serious pain bent over. He couldn’t put any weight on it as he exited with the help of Rangers trainer Jim Ramsay.

Groin injuries are tricky. The Rangers will approach it with caution. We’re talking about a 25-year old netminder who’s still in the early stage of his NHL career. It’s the future that’s most important for him. They shouldn’t rush him back.

With a busy schedule that includes a return match tomorrow afternoon against the Devils followed by games on Sunday and Tuesday at Pittsburgh, they shouldn’t take any chances. Alex Georgiev is a capable backup goalie who can fill in for the time being. He’s 2-2-2 with a 2.76 GAA and a .908 save percentage over 9 games. Eight starts.

Think of it this way. When Shestyorkin was injured in the car accident last year and missed time, David Quinn turned to Georgiev mostly with Henrik Lundqvist as the backup. He did a good job. Of course, there will be more pressure. He’ll have to do a good job with his rebound control.

If Shestyorkin has to miss two weeks including the games at Boston, so be it. It’s not about this season. Even at 9-9-3 thanks in large part to Chris Kreider’s hot streak, the team isn’t expected to make the playoffs. They’ll have to leap two good teams. It won’t be easy.

The Rangers should thank their lucky stars it isn’t an ACL or knee. For now, it’s Georgiev’s net with veteran Keith Kinkaid the likely backup.

As far as Saturday goes, it looks like coach David Quinn has made a puzzling decision to sit out Colin Blackwell. With Kaapo Kakko set to return after practicing with Ryan Strome and Kreider, the gritty Blackwell was the 13th forward behind Brendan Lemieux and Brett Howden. How is that possible? Never mind.

It won’t take Quinn long to realize Blackwell belongs in the lineup as a regular. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what he brings. Figure Jonny Brodzinski to be ticketed for Hartford.

The defense will remain the same. Jacob Trouba is back practicing, but in a non-contact jersey. It looks like he could be back sooner than expected. A good thing for the back end. That would move Brendan Smith down to the third pair and likely push Jack Johnson to the press box.

That’s gonna do it for now. All things considered, the Rangers got the best possible news on Shestyorkin. That’s a big positive.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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