The New York Rangers have recently had some inconsistent defensive efforts, as they have given up four or more goals in three of their past four contests. They lost the game in all three instances.
While the team as a whole needs to tighten up and manage the puck more effectively, the absence of defenseman Kevin Klein certainly has not helped matters. Klein, acquired last season from Nashville in exchange for Michael Del Zotto, has been rock-solid and extremely reliable for the Rangers all season, and has even chipped in offensively with a career high 9 goals and 26 points.
Injury in Washington
Klein’s season, however, hit an unfortunate bump in the road when he took a shot by Alex Ovechkin off his left arm toward the end of a 3-1 Rangers victory in Washington on March 11. Klein, in the absurdly secretive world of NHL injury disclosures, was initially reported to have an “upper-body” injury, but it was later revealed that he did in fact break his arm on the play.
“As soon as it hit me, I couldn’t hold my stick, and I knew something was up,” said Klein. “My arm kind of went numb, so it was obviously not good. Then we X-rayed it and it wasn’t displaced, which is nice. (I) didn’t have to have surgery, which is huge.” (NY Daily News).
The initial prognosis for New York’s steady blue-liner was that he would miss three to four weeks of action. Considering he was dealing with a broken arm, the Rangers had to be happy it was not worse than that and feel fortunate that he would be able to return to the lineup before the beginning of the playoffs.
Just recently, however, following the Rangers’ 5-2 home loss against the same Washington Capitals, head coach Alain Vigneault was asked for an update on Klein’s status. His reply was not what Rangers fans wanted to hear.
AV says Kevin Klein (broken left arm) is going through “a four-to-six week process.”
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) March 29, 2015
Four to six weeks makes a little more sense for an injury as severe as a broken arm, even without the need for surgery. Perhaps more details will be revealed in the coming days, but of course the hope for the Rangers is that Klein has not suffered a serious setback in his recovery. He is already going to return later than expected, but in a best-case scenario, the extra time will help ensure that he is at 100% when he resumes playing.
Looking ahead, four weeks from the time of the injury would mean that Klein be healthy and ready to return right around the Rangers’ final two regular season games (April 9 at home against Ottawa and April 11 in Washington). Anything longer than that, and Klein would likely at least part of New York’s first-round playoff series.
Obviously this is sub-optimal news for the Rangers, but they have done a great job all year of overcoming injuries and adversity — just look at their run during Henrik Lundqvist’s time out of the lineup. While they have stumbled a bit lately, they still have the personnel to collectively improve their play and tighten things up in Klein’s absence.