New York Hockey: Marc Staal

Rangers drop opener 4-1 to 'Yotes

October, 4, 2013
10/04/13
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Radim Vrbata and the Phoenix Coyotes spoiled the beginning of a new era for the Rangers under coach Alain Vigneault, handing the Blueshirts a 4-1 loss in the season opener Thursday night.

Vrbata became the first player ever to score a hat trick against the Rangers on opening night; the 32-year-old veteran notched the go-ahead goal with a wrist shot in the second period and added a pair of goals in the final frame.

Hoping to shake an underwhelming preseason -- the Rangers went 1-5 in exhibition games -- the Rangers dropped the first of what will be a trying nine-game road trip. Granted, they'll have until Monday to regroup, possibly getting back captain Ryan Callahan in the process, but then it's four games in six nights including stops in Los Angeles, San Jose, Anaheim and St. Louis.

Defensive-zone coverage was an area of concern for the Rangers, as was discipline. Though the Coyotes only scored once on the man-advantage, two other goals came soon after penalties expired.

A bright spot of the night? Defenseman Marc Staal continues to impress as he returns from a frightening eye injury that cost him more than half of last season. The 26-year-old scored a power-play marker in the second -- the team's only goal of the game -- while logging a team-high 25:40 of ice time.

And file this in the department of things you don't see very often: winger Rick Nash dropped the gloves late in the game against Martin Hanzal after the Coyotes alternate captain delivered a hard, high hit on Derek Stepan near the benches.

That was Nash's first regular-season fight in over four years.

Staal relieved in return to action

September, 17, 2013
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NEWARK, N.J. -- During the first week of training camp, Marc Staal sounded confident that the harrowing eye injury that sidelined him for half of last season would no longer be an issue.

He skated all summer, gave his eye time to heal and adjust, and finally felt comfortable with his ability to read and react on the ice.

[+] EnlargeMarc Staal
Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY SportsMarc Staal, returning from an eye injury, saw a world of difference during the Rangers' preseason opener.
But all that meant very little until he actually played a game.

After Monday’s first exhibition match of the 2013-14 season, a 2-1 loss to the Devils, Staal had the relieved look of someone who had passed a very significant milestone.

The 26-year-old defenseman, who missed several months after being struck in the eye with a puck during a game in March, played 21 minutes, 56 seconds over 25 shifts and came away feeling a world of difference from the previous time he tried to return, during the playoffs this past spring.

“I felt good in July, good going into camp, but there’s no animal like a game,” Staal said. “To feel as good as I did the first few shifts, I was comfortable out there. I was confident I was seeing everything. It was a bit of a relief ... and I’m just glad it’s over and I can keep playing again.”

That also has to be a tremendous relief to the Rangers, who need the steady, sound blueliner to anchor their back end along with the likes of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh.

His absence created a void that was difficult to fill this past spring, especially once the playoffs began and the games (and competition) got tougher.

Although Staal valiantly attempted to come back and help the Rangers during the team’s first-round series against the Washington Capitals, he quickly realized he wasn’t ready.

On Monday he had no such worry once the puck dropped and he played his first few shifts with defensive partner Michael Del Zotto.

“As soon as I got through the intensity of the first few shifts, I couldn’t even compare it with the game I played in the playoffs in the way I felt,” Staal said. “It went really good.”

New coach Alain Vigneault, who was behind the bench for the first time since being hired in June to replace John Tortorella, was pleased to see Staal return with no complications. He said he could sense the trepidation from him before the game.

“You could tell he was a little anxious and a little nervous, and rightfully so,” Vigneault said. “I thought he didn’t give up on pucks when the puck was bouncing, he talked to his partner all night long and I think it’s only going to get better for Marc.”

Because of the 27 games he missed last season, Staal is aiming to play more than usual this preseason. Although he will not play Tuesday in Philadelphia, Staal is planning on playing in three of the next four games that follow once the team heads out west for the rest of its exhibition tour.

Monday's roster vs. NJD

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
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Below is the lineup for the Rangers' first exhibition game of the 2013 preseason against the Devils on Monday:

Forwards: Chris Kreider, Ryan Bourque, Marek Hrivik, Brandon Mashinter, Dominic Moore, Darroll Powe, Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Danny Kristo, Rick Nash, Arron Asham, Shawn O'Donnell

Defensemen: Marc Staal, John Moore, Justin Falk, Aaron Johnson, Michael Del Zotto, Stu Bickel (if healthy; if not, Dylan McIlrath).

Goaltenders: Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Talbot

" " "


In advance of next week's exhibition games, the Rangers trimmed the roster by 14 players, sending eight back to Hartford (AHL): J.T. Barnett, Kyle Jean, Jason Wilson, Charlie Dodero and Samuel Noreau, Jeff Malcolm, Jason Missiaen, and Scott Stajcer; and six back to their respective junior clubs: Anthony Duclair, Klarc Wilson, Troy Donnay, Ben Fanelli, Ryan Graves and Jimmy Oligny.

Lundqvist won't allow contract distraction

September, 12, 2013
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made it clear that any ongoing contract talks will cease if they threaten to distract the former Vezina Trophy winner on the ice.

The 31-year-old Swedish netminder said he won't let any haggling between the two sides get in the way of his primary task at hand.

"All I can say is that when the season starts I want 100 percent to be focused on my game and what I need to do on the ice. If I feel it's the slightest percentage, me thinking about my future and contract, we're not going to talk about the contract during the season," Lundqvist said after the team's first on-ice session of training camp Thursday.

"That's something we'll discuss if we don't have something when the season starts, but I know how I work as a hockey player and my attention's on the game and nothing else."

Asked if there is anything new to report regarding the discussion between his camp and the Rangers, Lundqvist said:

"I know they're talking. That's all I can say."

Lundqvist, who was 24-16-3 with a .926 save percentage and 2.05 goals against average last season, is entering the last year of a six-year, $41.25 million deal.

The franchise goaltender is seeking a significant raise, and deservedly so considering he has been the team's most consistent performer in recent years.

The Rangers are also locked in a contract stalemate with 23-year-old center Derek Stepan; the unsigned restricted free agent has declined to report for camp without a contract.

• • •


After missing half of last season with a frightening eye injury, defenseman Marc Staal is back on the ice and eager to get started on a new season.

"I'm excited to play hockey and get going," he said.

The 26-year-old blue-liner, who was struck in the eye with a puck during a game in March, said he skated a great deal more this summer in preparation for his return.

Though his vision still has not changed much -- his affected eye remains dilated -- the time spent on the ice has allowed his perception to improve dramatically.

"I think I'm just more adapted to it and a lot more used to it. The vision hasn't changed much, but the perception of what I'm seeing on the ice has gotten way better than when I was trying to come back during the playoffs," Staal said.

• • •


20-year-old J.T. Miller, who spent 26 games with the Rangers last season, left the ice during conditioning laps. According to coach Alain Vigneault, Miller tweaked his hamstring, though the injury is not believed to be serious.

Marc Staal 'back to normal'

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
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Even though the stalemate between the Rangers and unsigned restricted free agent Derek Stepan continues, Ranger fans can breathe a little easier knowing their top blue-liner is fully recovered.

Following a harrowing eye injury that sidelined Marc Staal for half the season, the 26-year-old defenseman is back in action for Team Canada's Olympic camp and feeling well.

"Everything's back to normal and I'm feeling really good," Staal said, according to ESPN.com's Pierre Lebrun.

Read the rest on the Cross Checks blog here.

ESPN.com's Craig Custance also has a good piece on the Rangers' identity under new head coach Alain Vigneault. He checks in with captain Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan here (Insider).

The new Metropolitan Division

July, 31, 2013
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ESPN Insider Craig Custance wrote a great piece breaking down the brand-new Metropolitan Division, home to the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Custance argues that the Rangers are trending up, saying that Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the division, better than reigning Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky, and the top four of Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto and Marc Staal stacks up with any defense in the East.

Custance says the Islanders have good, young talent but expects "a small step back may be coming after last season's big step forward." My big question about the Isles is, can John Tavares keep up his production after a breakthrough season? If so, this will be a fun team to watch.

After losing Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson and Henrik Tallinder and adding Cory Schneider, Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder and Jaromir Jagr, the Devils are a hard team to predict. Custance thinks Schneider will have a big impact in the crease and the team will be able to hold steady.

Read the full piece here (Insider).

Paul Grant has expressed his displeasure over the new Metropolitan Division. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.

Notes: Rangers out of depth sans Stralman

May, 25, 2013
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BOSTON -- Defenseman Anton Stralman, a vital contributor for the New York Rangers’ back end in the 2013 playoffs, missed the past two games with a separated right shoulder, a source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com.

[+] EnlargeTyler Seguin, Roman Hamrlik
Brian Babineau/NHLI/Getty ImagesPlaying in place of Anton Stralman, Roman Hamrlik's turnover led to Gregory Campbell's go-ahead goal in the third period.
Stralman sustained the injury after taking a hard hit from the Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic late in the second period in Game 3 of the series. He also sustained a facial fracture on the play, though his shoulder injury is what prevented him from playing Games 4 and 5.

Stralman’s injury only compounded the Rangers' already depleted defensive corps, which has played without Marc Staal for all but one game of the postseason.

“We don’t have our [Zdeno] Chara in [Marc] Staal,” Tortorella said, in discussing the team’s depth. “All teams go through it, so please, I’m not using that as an excuse, but it hurts. It hurts our depth. It put people in situations that, right now, I don’t think they’re ready to handle those types of minutes that there is with those players.”

In Stralman’s absence, Tortorella dressed veteran Roman Hamrlik for the last two games of the series. Prior to his Game 4 appearance, Hamrlik had not played in almost two months.

That rust showed on Saturday, when his turnover led to Gregory Campbell’s go-ahead goal at 13:41 in the third.

Derek dust-up: Rangers antagonist Derek Dorsett went to the box three times throughout the course of the game, beginning with a tandem of roughing and unsportsmanlike penalties incurred after dropping the gloves with Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton in the first period.

The scrap got so heated that the officials had to separate the two players on the ice, with Dorsett and Thornton continuing to jaw at each other from the box.

Dorsett also took slashing and tripping penalties later in the game.

Tortorella said he liked the intensity the chippy fourth-liner displayed.

“I’d rather have him at that level of not being able to control himself than a couple of other players on our team that I can’t get them to [that] level,” Tortorella said. “So, it’s much easier to have a player that way and try to tame him than to try to build a player up. I think he’s going to be an effective player for us as we move forward.”

Ryane Clowe back on ice

May, 22, 2013
5/22/13
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Injured forward Ryane Clowe returned to the ice for the first time since suffering an apparent head injury in Game 5 of the Rangers' first-round series against Washington.

Clowe was among the players skating during the Rangers' optional practice Wednesday, the morning after a Game 3 loss to Boston.

Clowe, acquired from the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline, has appeared in only one postseason game for the Rangers. He missed five games after sustaining what is believed to have been a concussion against the Carolina Hurricanes during the last week of the regular season.

Clowe, one of the most coveted trade targets at the deadline, waived his no-trade clause to come to the Rangers because he felt "this team is built for this time of year," he said during the Washington series. Set to become a unrestricted free agent this summer, Clowe appeared to be the type of player the Rangers were interested in re-signing. That seems less likely now, with his string of injuries that have limited his time on the ice.

Carl Hagelin, who took a puck to the face in Game 3 on Tuesday, also practiced with the team as did Darroll Powe (undisclosed) and Marc Staal (eye).

Chris Kreider, who took a stick to the eye in Game 3, and defenseman Anton Stralman, who was also injured in the game after taking a monster hit from Milan Lucic, did not practice.

Notes: Stralman sidelined

May, 22, 2013
5/22/13
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The New York Rangers’ blue line, already without Marc Staal, lost another top-four defenseman Tuesday night when Anton Stralman was forced from the game in the second period.

[+] EnlargeAnton Stralman
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesAn injury to Anton Stralman further weakens a Rangers' blue line that was already decimated.
Stralman, who plays on the team’s second defensive pairing with Michael Del Zotto, was forced from the game after a hard hit from Boston’s Milan Lucic late in the second period.

Stralman did not play in the third period, which forced Rangers coach John Tortorella to lean heavily on his top pair of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi.

“He’s played so well,” Tortorella said of Stralman after the team’s 2-1 loss. “That’s a big blow to us, as far as our matches and the depth within our [defense].”

Assuming Stralman is unavailable for Game 4, either veteran Roman Hamrlik or Matt Gilroy will draw into the lineup. Neither player has made an appearance yet in the 2013 playoffs.

Limited role: Struggling center Brad Richards, recently relegated to the fourth line with his poor play, saw a paltry 8:10 of ice time, only 5:58 of which was at even strength.

Richards, who might be a prime candidate for a buyout this summer, was limited to a mere three shifts in the second period and two in the third.

The 32-year-old veteran, who inked a nine-year, $60 million deal in July of 2011, has been held to one point this postseason.

World of hurt: Stralman wasn’t the only one to get banged up during Game 3.

Carl Hagelin left the game after taking a puck to the face in the third, though he returned later in the period. Chris Kreider also required medical attention when he went down to the ice, writhing in pain, after getting a stick to the eye. Kreider also remained in the game.

Power outage: The Rangers' ineptitude on the power play continued with another futile effort Tuesday night.

After failing on both man-up opportunities in Game 3, the Rangers are now 2-for-38 -- a dreadful 5.3 percent -- in the playoffs and 0-for-10 this series.

By contrast, the Bruins have had only one power play over the past two games.

McDonagh, Rangers D stall Caps

May, 14, 2013
5/14/13
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Wins don’t come easy in the playoffs, and Ryan McDonagh’s bruised and battered face was a good reminder of that Monday night.

The 23-year-old had a massive welt swelling above his right cheekbone and a bloody cut above his eye, a parting gift from Washington Capitals star forward Alex Ovechkin after his questionable hit in the first period.

Not that any cosmetic setbacks were of much importance to McDonagh as he balanced the team’s MVP Broadway Hat atop his head following the New York Rangers' series-clinching 5-0 rout of the Capitals in Game 7.

[+] EnlargeLundqvist
Chuck Myers/Getty ImagesAlex Ovechkin was shut down by the Rangers in the last five games of the first-round series.
“It started a little bit slow for us, and the team I think, but we felt like we had more to give and as it went on we got more confidence,” McDonagh said of himself and defensive partner Dan Girardi. “We definitely stayed within our structure a lot better, which helped us to be that much more successful.”

McDonagh, who played 23:15, and Girardi, who played 21:08, were absolutely vital to the Rangers in containing Ovechkin and his linemates Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom on the Capitals’ top unit.

Ovechkin was held off the score sheet for the last five games of the series, the longest drought of his NHL playoff career. Backstrom and Johansson combined for only three points during that span.

“Obviously, they played good on us, but we should still score goals,” Backstrom said. “But I can just talk for myself, my effort. That’s embarrassing.”

The Rangers’ top pairing became particularly essential with the team’s loss of cornerstone defenseman Marc Staal, who was scratched for six of seven games.

Staal returned in Game 3 after missing two months with an injured right eye, but had to pull himself out of the lineup before Game 4 with the injury issues cropping back up again.

In his years as a Ranger, Staal has often been deployed against Ovechkin’s line, but McDonagh filled that shutdown role with Girardi nicely.

“Mac and [Girardi] did a great job shutting down their top line,” said Arron Asham, who notched the game’s first goal with 6:41 remaining in the first.

Coach John Tortorella also lauded the play of both players after the game, praising McDonagh’s toughness in particular after he gutted through the game following Ovechkin’s hit.

“A big part of being a tough team in the playoffs is taking a hit to make a play. Danny (Girardi)and (McDonagh) got banged around a little bit, but they made the plays,” Tortorella said. “That's how it's going to be. [Bruins forward Milan] Lucic is going to be coming after them in Boston, a number of people are going to be coming after them. That's the way you have to play. Take hits to make plays. Hopefully, we can find our way.”

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Caps 3

May, 6, 2013
5/06/13
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With the help of Derek Stepan's deciding goal in the third period, the New York Rangers prevented the Washington Capitals from taking what would've been a commanding three-game lead to the series while holding court at Madison Square Garden with a 4-3 victory. The Blueshirts now have a chance to even the best-of-seven series on Wednesday in Game 4 at home.

With the game tied at 3-3, Stepan tallied his first goal of the playoffs with an expert tip at the right post to reclaim the lead for the Rangers with 6:25 to play. Earlier in the frame, the Caps and Rangers traded goals, with fourth-liner Arron Asham's goal from the doorstep in the opening minutes and Jay Beagle's deflection of Jack Hillen's shot for the equalizer at 7:19.

Derick Brassard finished the game with one goal and two assists to lead the Rangers with three points.

Grass is always Green-er: With his second score in as many games, Capitals defenseman Mike Green beat Henrik Lundqvist from the right circle for a game-tying goal with 2:41 remaining in the second. Green’s goal was the result of a Rangers gaffe earlier in the play when defenseman Michael Del Zotto failed to play the puck behind the net, allowing Washington to keep it in zone. Green, who knotted the score at 2-2, also notched the game-winner for Washington on Saturday in the Capitals' 1-0 overtime win in Game 2.

Penalty parade: The Capitals had trouble staying out of the box through the first two periods, taking six penalties in the opening 27 minutes. Even though the Rangers tallied only once on the man-advantage -- Brian Boyle’s first goal of the playoffs came just as a Washington penalty expired -- the power play appeared infinitely more active than in the previous two games of the series.

First strike: The Capitals took the crowd out of the game early, zapping the building’s energy with a goal just 4:06 into play. Nicklas Backstrom deflected John Carlson’s deep wrist shot for a 1-0 lead, a goal that was reviewed for a potential high stick but ultimately upheld.

Just barely: After eight straight failed power-play attempts, the Rangers cashed in just as their second man-up opportunity of the game expired, with Washington’s Joel Ward emerging from the box for high-sticking. Boyle drove to the net and ripped a shot off between the legs of Green to beat Braden Holtby and tie the game at 12:50 of the first period.

Staal returns: No Ranger on the ice received a more thunderous welcome than Marc Staal in his return to the lineup after missing two months with an injured right eye. The 26-year-old Staal played for the first time since being struck in the eye with a puck on March 5. Staal, who now wears a visor, was paired with Anton Stralman on defense.

Powe!: Rangers fourth-line forward Darroll Powe was forced from the game after initiating a hard hit on Ward along the boards in the first period. Though it was Powe who laid the hit on Ward, he appeared to catch an elbow that left him woozy while getting up and skating off to the bench. Powe missed time earlier this season with a concussion.

Up next: Rangers vs. Caps, Game 4, Wednesday at 7:30.

Clowe, Staal status unclear

May, 6, 2013
5/06/13
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UPDATE: The Rangers have activated Marc Staal off injured reserve

Both injured defensemen Marc Staal (eye) and Ryane Clowe (believed to be a concussion) skated Monday morning during the Rangers' optional morning skate at Madison Square Garden.

It remains unclear whether either -- or both -- players will return to action in Game 3 against the Capitals. Rangers coach John Tortorella said he will not address injury or lineup questions during the post-season.

Staal did not speak with the media after the skate, making it difficult to gauge his availability for Monday, but there is an interesting point to consider. Assuming he is close, which he is believed to be, wouldn't it make the most sense for him to get back in at home?

Given the home team's ability to make the last change, the Rangers' would be better able to manage matchups. Plus the team could ease him back into play in comfortable surroundings. Staal's knowledge of the ice, the dimensions, the lighting and weird little nuances of MSG would diminish the adjustments necessary to accommodate any lingering limitations of his right eye.

Staal, who has been skating with the team for weeks, has not played since being struck in the eye with a puck during a game against the Flyers March 5.

Clowe did speak to the media Monday morning, but said he was not yet sure if he will be available Monday.

"I feel pretty good out there," Clowe said. "Obviously you guys [the media] want to know if I'm going to play tonight, [but] I'm still not sure about that."

It's clear that the 30-year-old veteran, who has 68 games of playoff experience as a former long-time San Jose Shark, is itching to get back. But the Rangers are likely exercising caution with what is believed to be a head injury that has shelved him since the team's playoff-clinching win in Carolina in the penultimate game of the season.

"Like anyone else at this time of year, no one's ever 100 percent, but when I come back I'll definitely I'll feel capable of everything I can bring and my style of play -- obviously, a physical style -- so that's what I'm looking at here.

Clowe: 'I'm not ruling myself out'

May, 3, 2013
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WASHINGTON -- Rangers forward Ryane Clowe skated with the team Friday for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury (believed to be a concussion) in the Rangers' playoff-clinching win in Carolina last Thursday.

Clowe said he felt "pretty good" and added that he may even be available to return to the lineup for Game 2 against the Capitals on Saturday.

"I'm not gonna rule out tomorrow," Clowe said after the Rangers' brief skate on Friday at the Verizon Center. "Tough to watch this time of year. Playoffs -- it's the time of year and the hockey I look forward to the most. So, it was hard to watch last night. But, I'll discuss it with the trainers and the proper people today and let them know how it felt. So we'll see."

Clowe sounded like the conditioning factor is not his biggest concern, given the anticipated adrenaline jolt the playoffs provide.

"I feel like that this time of year I can jump in every time, just because I've played a lot of hockey up to this point," Clowe said. I just feel like you can run on [adrenaline]. It's kind of like my first game in New York. I didn't really have any sleep but you run on adrenaline to get back into it. So, I don't think conditioning is that big of a factor."

Coach John Tortorella also confirmed that a player healthy enough to play will be in the lineup at this time of year, regardless of conditioning level.

"Because if we don't win, we're done," he said. "So I don't give a d*** about conditioning."

Clowe's return could lend a big boost to the Rangers offense. The rugged 30-year-old winger brings size and grit to the lineup, and he also adds experience. In his eight-plus seasons with the Sharks, Clowe had 18 goals and 45 points in 68 playoff games.

"It's good to see. I think everybody skated today. We have a lot of players out there and [you] hope for the best, that everybody's healthy," said fellow playoff veteran Brad Richards. "A lot of decisions to be made and everybody's chomping at the bit. I'm not a trainer or a doctor. I don't know exactly where everybody is, but it's good to have everybody out there."

In addition to Clowe, injured forward Derek Dorsett also appears to be nearing a return. For the first time Friday, Dorsett skated in a regular jersey -- he previously donned a non-contact jersey -- which presumably means he was cleared for contact.

Brian Boyle and defenseman Marc Staal also practiced with the team, although it isn't clear when any of the four players will return. Tortorella said Thursday that he will not discuss any injuries or lineup questions during the playoffs.
WASHINGTON -- With the playoffs underway and the subterfuge already in full swing, injured Rangers forward Brian Boyle revealed very little after skating with the team Thursday for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury April 16.

Boyle seemed encouraged by the morning's skate but didn't offer up much more regarding his potential return to the lineup.

"I felt good," he said.

Any idea of a timeline?

"I felt good," he answered. "It was positive."

Boyle did concede, sort of, that he is hopeful to return to the lineup at some point during this series vs. Washington.

"Playoffs. I want to be out there as quick as I can. It felt good, so that's all I really know," he said. "I don't have any idea how it's supposed to work. I'm trying to feel as good as I can as fast as I can."

Boyle was similarly noncommittal when asked whether he would require medical clearance before he can resume playing.

"We've got a whole staff of medical guys," Boyle said. "Again, I'm not a doctor."

Boyle also declined to answer whether he has skated prior to Thursday on his own.

• • •


Injured defenseman Marc Staal was a bit more forthcoming about his progress; Staal has not played since being struck in the eye with a puck on March 5.

The 26-year-old said he doesn't want to risk coming back until he is confident he can make a positive impact, especially considering the heightened pressure this time of year.

"When I feel like I'm going to be able to help the team win and be successful, I'll get back on the ice," Staal said. "Hopefully that's sooner rather than later."

How will he know?

"As soon as I'm not second-guessing myself or hesitating, or [once] I do things I normally do becomes automatic again is when I can jump into a playoff-type game," Staal said.

Staal praised the work of the Rangers' defensive corps in his absence and said he doesn't want to "compromise" that by returning prematurely. He admitted that the situation might be different if this was a regular-season scenario, but that it makes no sense to take the risk with critical playoff games on the line.

"If it were Game 10 maybe I'd jump out there for a few shifts," he said. "But right now the stakes are too high."

• • •
Derek Dorsett (collarbone) skated with the team in a white non-contact jersey. Ryane Clowe (believed to be concussion) made the trip to D.C. with the team but did not skate.

Staal unlikely for Game 1 vs. Caps

May, 1, 2013
5/01/13
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Pre-empting the crowd of reporters surrounding his dressing room stall, Marc Staal assured them he had no new information about his injured right eye.

And although Staal did not definitively rule himself out, he said he will "probably" not play in Game 1 of the team's first-round series against the Capitals in D.C. on Thursday.

"I'm not going to ... I'm probably not going to play tomorrow," said Staal, who has been sidelined since being struck in the eye with a puck March 5.

Staal continues to practice with the team in hopes of returning soon. The 26-year-old defenseman missed almost half of last season with a concussion.

"There are good and bad days," he said. "So, [I] keep taking it day by day and hope it keeps getting better."

• • •
Ryane Clowe, whose undisclosed injury is believed to be a concussion, and Brian Boyle (lower body) did not practice with the team Wednesday

Derek Dorsett (shoulder) practiced in a yellow noncontact jersey.

• • •


With four days to rest, recover and prepare in between their regular-season finale against the Devils on Saturday and Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Thursday, the Rangers have had their most significant amount of practice time thus far during the lockout-shortened season.

A good thing in some ways, though coach John Tortorella senses his team is getting restless.

"They're sick of practicing," Tortorella said. "We're not used to it, especially this year. You're playing every other day. Even the coaches ... we're just used to playing. This is the time of year you should be playing. Again, I'm not complaining, it's just a lot of time."

So much time, in fact, that Tortorella decided to wrap things up early Wednesday. Both Monday and Tuesday the team practiced for double sessions, with the second session devoted to special teams.

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