Well this isn't going to help.
With the Rangers on a two-game skid and having failed to score more than two goals in a game since the start of 2011, losing leading scorer Brandon Dubinsky to a stress fracture in his Fibula is probably the last thing the Blueshirts needed. Early estimates place him out of action for three to four weeks, a stretch that could likely define the Rangers' season.
Already without Ryan Callahan, as he recovers from a broken hand, (not to mention Erik Christensen, Alex Frolov and Vinny Prospal) the Rangers will now be absent another forward -- one who sets the tone for this team through his combination of strength, energy and skill. Dubinsky currently leads the team with 17 goals and 21 assists, as well as a team-high 124 shots on goal.
There's no word, yet, on how Dubinsky sustained the injury, but given the team's -- and particularly Dubinsky's -- propensity to give up their bodies to block shots, it seems like that will be a reflex diagnosis. Think again.
The Fibula is actually behind the shin bone and covered from behind by the calf muscle, so it doesn't seem like blocking a shot would cause that injury. But I'm not exactly Dr. House, so take this with a grain of salt -- though my amateur speculation is sound per one source. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a stress fracture is caused by fatigue in the muscles, not blunt force like the impact of a puck. The athletic example from the AAOS (linked above) states:
"Stress fractures often are the result of increasing the amount or intensity of an activity too rapidly. They also can be caused by the impact of an unfamiliar surface (a tennis player who has switched surfaces from a soft clay court to a hard court); improper equipment (a runner using worn or less flexible shoes); and increased physical stress (a basketball player who has had a substantial increase in playing time)."
Again, that's just what I've read (Damn it man, I'm a blogger, not a doctor!) and we haven't been given an official cause yet. For those curious though, Dubinsky has averaged 20:07 in ice time this season, but was under that figure each of the past three games. Dubinsky is the Rangers' leader in ATOI among forwards and ranks 14th among forwards league-wide in that category.
The burden now falls even more heavily on the remaining healthy forwards to produce. The Rangers will absolutely need Wojtek Wolski and the struggling Marian Gaborik to start finding the net with regularity. And they'll likely also need Brian Boyle and Chris Drury to provide some of the other intangibles that Dubinsky flaunted on the ice.
And oh yeah, the Blueshirts will miss Dubinsky in the faceoff circle too, where he holds the second-highest win percentage among regulars at the dot. When matched on a line with C Derek Stepan, Dubinsky would often take the draws for the rookie (who sports a rather horrific 37.5 win percentage). That option is gone for the next month. Time for another Mark Messier tutorial methinks.