Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Staal, Fedotenko Could Return vs Wild Tomorrow; Gaborik Progessing, But Not There Yet

The New York Rangers had good news at practice today involving a trio of their walking wounded.  Marc Staal and Ruslan Fedotenko were able to participate fully in practice and both are possible additions to the lineup tomorrow against Minnesota.  Marian Gaborik was also able to skate and practice today for the first time since last Friday and says he has been feeling better the past few days.
Per Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants the decisions on Staal and Fedotenko will be made tomorrow morning while coach John Tortorella has already ruled Gaborik out of the lineup.  If Staal returns it would be a huge boost to the defensive core and would likely mean Steve Eminger would be back in the press box as the healthy scratch, but Matt Gilroy could also be a possibility.  Staal has not played since February 22nd against Carolina due to the knee injury he sustained on his first shift of the game.  Staal attempted to practice on Monday in hopes of playing against Buffalo, but had a setback and missed last night’s game.  The fact that he made it through the full practice today is a good sign, but with three games in four nights they could wait an extra day to bring him back if there is any concern in the morning.
With Fedotenko all signs point to him being back in the lineup tomorrow as he recovers from aggravating his previous shoulder injury in his first game back last week.  The addition of Feds to the lineup is very important to the way the team forechecks and the aggression they play with.  Those things are contagious and the Rangers have really gotten away from them for long stretches of games lately and hopefully watching Fedotenko do it will rub off on the rest of the club.
Where Marian Gaborik is concerned the cautious approach is the best approach.  That he was able to participate in practice is a great sign, but the real test will be tonight/tomorrow to see how his head responds to the work.  If he is able to avoid the problems he had when he tried skating last week it will be another step in the process to him returning, though I would still not expect him back in the lineup in the immediate future.
For quotes from the players be sure to check out Ranger Rants where Andrew Gross does a great job as always.