After taking most of the day to digest the bombshell of Marian Gaborik’s torn labrum, I’ve come to the glass half-full conclusion that there’s good and bad to be drawn from the news.
Timing – Obviously Gaborik was hampered by his injury during the playoffs, but if you’re choosing to look towards the future, it’s a good thing this happened now and not in October. Gaborik now has four full months to recover before the start of the season and even if he were out for the full six months suggested by doctors, he’d still be able to play a considerable chunk of the season. Better yet, the extent of the injury was discovered prior to any offseason player movement, giving the front office time to rethink and revise its plan of attack for the summer. Offense was the team’s primary need before the injury and that hasn’t changed, but at least GM Glen Sather and company know just where they stand. If this injury happened in training camp, the team would be able to do little in reaction and could be looking at severely weakened chances of winning the Atlantic Division crown.
Potential lockout – Of course none of us want a lockout, but there exists the very real possibility that the 2012-2013 season will be shortened. If it takes the owners and players a month or two to hash out their differences, Gaborik could actually be ready to go from the outset. Don’t do anything foolish and start praying for a work stoppage, but if your primary concern is finishing as high as possible in the Eastern Conference again, then having a healthy Gaborik on board for a shortened season may be the best thing to hope for.
According to nhl.com, Marian Gaborik had an MRI on Tuesday and learned that he has a torn labrum. He told Slovakian newspaper SME that he will undergo surgery next Wednesday and could be out up to 5-6 months, though that timetable will likely change after surgery.
As we mentioned in our report cards the other day, you can now forgive Gabby for under-performing during the playoffs. You also have to respect the man for taking pain injections and still going out there and competing. Even with a torn rotator he was able to 86 the Caps and put up 11 points in 20 games, far more than some of our healthy players.
Anyway, we will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
The big news out of practice today was that Brandon Dubinsky was on the ice in a non-contact jersey. This is great news for the Rangers, who have been missing Dubinsky since he went down with his lower body injury. Dubinsky has been sorely missed on the penalty kill, as evidenced last game when Brian Boyle took a penalty, and Derek Stepan was forced to kill the penalty. Of course, the end result was a Devil’s goal.
There is still no timetable for Dubinsky’s return, but the fact that he is skating is great news. Considering it was his leg that was an issue, him being able to be on the ice and moving around can only be seen as a good thing. He likely won’t play tomorrow, but if all goes well I’d assume he will be back sooner rather than later.
As for the lines from practice, there was one minor change, as Mike Rupp moved up to skate with Brian Boyle and Artem Anisimov. Ruslan Fedotenko, John Mitchell, and Brandon Prust were the fourth line.
It’s a bit of a slow day today. So here are some notes (in bullet point format) from practice, courtesy of Rick Carpiniello:
Brandon Dubinsky is still out, and has been spotted with a boot on his right leg and crutches.
Mats Zuccarello didn’t skate, but that’s not all that unexpected. He was likely working off the ice to rehab that wrist.
Lines at practice saw Ryan Callahan skating with Ruslan Fedotenko and Brian Boyle. Artem Anisimov was moved in Cally’s spot with Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan. Brandon Prust was with Mike Rupp and John Mitchell. The top line stayed the same.
It is troubling to see that Dubinsky is still on crutches. Makes you wonder how long he is going to be out. At first I thought this could be connected to his stress fracture from last season, but that was on his left leg, not his right. So much for my theory. I still think Dubi plays again before this round is over. It’s the playoffs, he will do anything to get in the lineup.
The big news out of practice the last few days is that Mats Zuccarello has been skating with the team. Out for five weeks with a broken wrist, Zuccarello has pretty much been an afterthought when it comes to the Rangers in the playoffs. But now with Brian Boyle easing back into the game after suffering a concussion, and Brandon Dubinsky out with a lower body injury, the need for some offensive infusion has become apparent.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Zuccarello is the answer to magically save the Rangers. I’m just saying that with Dubi out, and John Mitchell struggling a bit, Zuccarello might provide some spark to the lineup. Carl Hagelin has also been struggling mightily offensively, so have a few other key players that are in there to get the Rangers offense going.
With Zuccarello appearing more likely to play sooner than Dubinsky, and Mitchell more likely thatn Ruslan Fedotenko to be sitting if Zuccarello plays, the question then becomes where Zuccarello fits in the lineup. Zuccarello may not fit in with the top-nine at even strength, but will he find some powerplay time?
Dubinsky apparently suffered a lower-body injury when he was hit by Ottawa’s Zack Smith in Thursday’s Game 7 victory. Again, although nothing is being confirmed about his injury, reports seem to indicate that he will likely miss more than tonight’s game against Washington.
Although Dubinsky has underwhelmed offensively so far in the postseason, he has been a vital member to the team defensively. He’s been solid on faceoffs (50%), he’s played key minutes on the penalty kill, and he’s been strong on the forecheck.
Prior to his injury I thought Dubi played his best game of the postseason in last Thursday’s victory. His hit in the defensive zone during the second period caused the turnover that eventually led to the game winning goal, which he also assisted. Hopefully we haven’t seen the last of Dubinsky. He will be counted on to play an important role for this team as the postseason progresses.
***Side note – While we certainly understand many people have such strong negative emotions for Dubinsky, several of our readers have brought up that they are sick of a select few who come on to this site and trash Dubi and his supporters. With this in mind, we will kindly warn you all to keep things civil and be respectful of each other’s opinions.
The best news of the day came from Rick Carpiniello, who broke the news that Brian Boyle was indeed on the ice and skating in practice. Boyle looks like he will return for the series against the Caps, meaning he will only have missed two or three games with his concussion.
Boyle’s return is huge news for the Rangers. They will now be dressing a full strength roster, something they haven’t done since Game Two against the Senators. It is expected that Boyle will replace John Mitchell in the lineup when he returns.
When Chris Neil took out Brian Boyle with a questionable hit on Saturday night, he took out the Rangers most effective forward. He took out their leading scorer, top defensive forward, and top penalty killer in this series. He took out the only player that has managed to get under the skin of the Senators. It’s a big blow to the Rangers, and not a player easily replaced. The best the Rangers can do is find some sort of lineup option that maximizes the return of Carl Hagelin, and minimizes the departure of Boyle. This is no easy task.
Side note: Is it great for the depth of the team to say that Boyle has been the best forward, or is it a sign of weakness in the top six? Tough call there.
The good news, as mentioned above, is that Hagelin will be returning to the lineup tonight after serving his three game suspension for elbowing and concussing Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. The addition of Hagelin adds some much needed speed and puck possession to the lineup, which also helps minimize the negative effects of having their top defensive forward out of the lineup.
This leaves the Rangers with a few lineup options to consider for the game, and while none are perfect, they give the Rangers much needed flexibility.
This afternoon some good news has hit the Twittersphere about the status of Derek Stepan, recipient of a dirty knee-on-knee hit from Brooks Orpik last night. Per Andrew Gross, Stepan attended the Rangers team photo shoot this morning. Although Stepan didn’t skate at practice, his attendance at the team picture is at least a good sign. It means he can walk on that leg.
The other good news is that Ryan McDonagh, who rode to practice with Stepan (per Steve Zipay), said that Stepan was sore, but didn’t think it was serious.
More good news: there have been no call ups from the AHL yet. It would be a surprise if Stepan played tomorrow against the Caps though. Expect John Scott to see some time tomorrow while Stepan rests up. The President’s Trophy is nice, but not at the expense of the health of key members of the team.
Obviously the NHL had to rain on the good news parade today. There won’t be a hearing for Orpik concerning that hit. Thought the league wanted that kind of play out of the game?
Well, anyone who watched the game last night saw that in the third period, with the Penguins well on their way to a victory, Derek Stepan carried the puck through the neutral zone, and was hit by Brooks Orpik. The hit was a knee-on-knee hit, and Stepan was down on the ice for a while before skating to the bench. Video is below:
When watching the video, different angles show different aspects of the hit. First, Stepan made a move at the last second to try and get around Orpik. Those last second moves are generally a precursor to this type of hit. However, Orpik appears to have led with his knee on the hit, which makes it a dirty hit. I went over to Pensburgh to see what they thought, and in the game thread even they thought it was a dirty hit.
That said, Orpik is not a dirty player. His hit on Stepan in the first period was as clean a hit as they come. It just so happened a hard nosed defender made a boneheaded play, and now the Rangers are going to suffer for it. It’s not the dirtiest hit I’ve seen, look at who else is on that roster, but it’s still a dirty hit.
The in-game call of a five minute major and a game misconduct was the right call on this hit. A suspension, likely a game, would also be the right call. After all, there is zero chance that Stepan will play tomorrow, so shouldn’t Orpik be punished as well?
But of course we are talking about the NHL and the Penguins, so Orpik will likely get one of those $5,000 slap on the wrists. If he does, expect another colorful interview with John Tortorella (more on that after the jump), because that will be one of those calls that goes in the Penguins favor.