With Rangers hockey resuming after the All-Star Break fans were optimistic that the good winning play the team had shown in their game against the Sabres on Jan. 25, their last game before the break, would continue once the break ended.
Sadly, the Rangers fell to the Devils in their first game back from the break on Feb. 2 in a 3-2 game.
Putting the loss, and play, aside, what will stick with the Rangers following this is the injury that defenseman Kevin Klein left the game with. He is the second player to be sidelined with an injury, joining forward Rick Nash with an indefinite return.
A Bone Bruised Nash
AV on Rick Nash: "It's just a bad bone bruise & it's taken longer to heal than our medical crew thought it would" #NYR
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 1, 2016
Nash remains on a day-to-day basis after suffering an injury in the Rangers game against Carolina on Jan.22, where, first he took a hard hit causing him to fall into the boards and then later blocked a shot with his leg.
In a CT scan it was revealed that Nash has suffered a bruised bone on his left leg that had caused him to refrain from skating for almost two weeks; he was unable to take the ice at all until Feb.2 when he was able to manage skating on his own.
The bruised bone has been taking longer to heal than was originally expected, though there is no exact time in which a bruised bone is expected to heal. In the meantime, Nash needs to rest his bruised bone and refrain from putting it in a position to worsen injury.
The Rangers are working on filling in the hole that Nash had left. While Nash, this season, hasn’t been the scoring super power he’s been in past seasons he has contributed a great deal of effective offensive and defensive play, as well as being a good and confident leader on the ice.
Line shuffles can help the team make up for this hole by merging the right strengths but having the right players step up will be the best way to keep the Rangers play merging. Players like Derick Brassard, Derek Stepan, and even J.T Miller are the kinds of players that need to keep their game high, as well as getting support from their line mates. A team playing like a team will improve their play from this point.
Dealing with Nash’s injury, though he is improving every day, isn’t the only injury that will be affecting the Rangers. D-man Klein has also sustained an injury and will also be a hole in defense.
Klein’s Fractured Thumb
#NYR Kevin Klein suffered a fractured thumb and will be sidelined indefinitely.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 3, 2016
Klein left the third period of the team’s game against the Devils on Tuesday night after a check from Devil Reid Boucher. This sent Klein down into the boards, he was down for a few moments before exiting the ice to the locker room.
Coach Alain Vigneault said following the game that he was still unsure of the nature of Klein’s injury, but the following morning it was revealed that Klein had fractured his thumb (his thumb had already been slightly hurt from a previous injury) and would be sidelined indefinitely.
Klein has been a key defenseman this season and currently has a 14 plus/minus. Earlier in the season Klein had missed 11 games due to an oblique injury; rookie defenseman Dylan McIlrath had taken spot as the sixth defenseman in Klein’s previous absence and will do so again.
"When we've asked Dylan (McIlrath) to come in and play some minutes he's been able to play well..he's going to get a chance again"-AV #NYR
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 3, 2016
McIlrath has performed very well in his limited ice time and should be a helpful addition to the defense in Klein’s absence. McIlrath currently has two goals, three points, and a plus/minus of five in his season of 20 games played so far. He has done a great job filling the holes before and it is expected that he will do so again.
The Injury Effect
Having players, especially such key players, out on injury in a time where a team needs wins isn’t the most ideal. Having any player off the ice due to injury is something a team never wants. These injuries will cause some holes in the line up, but it isn’t something the team can’t make up for.
The Rangers are decorated with good effective players who can perform to their full potential if they are pushed and matched accordingly. Now, with injuries forcing different players to step up, the team should be putting everything they have into playing to the best of their abilities.
Earlier in the season the defense was able to bridge Klein’s absence with good play, but since defense hasn’t been its strongest as of late it is important that each d-man play to their full potential. The addition of McIlrath should be a good help as he has been a limited player who is hungry for ice time and has proved his abilities in the past.
The forwards will have to keep moving to get offensive play high. Miller, who scored two goals against the Devils on Tuesday night, has already elevated his play and is moving closer and closer to his first hat trick each time he gets his scoring going.
If the team can push to their full potential and play together as a team they should be able to push through any effect these injuries might have on their play.
Hopefully the Rangers can get their play together and get back to consistent play, something that can only happen if the team pushed themselves and work together.