Dec 26, 2011, 12:17 PM EDT
These are good times for the New York Rangers.
Prior to the Christmas break, the Rangers moved into top spot in the Atlantic Division, a position that’s been monopolized by the Flyers and Penguins this season.
Now, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the Blueshirts are about to get healthier.
Wojtek Wolski, out since Oct. 27 with a sports hernia, is expected to be ready by the end of this week. Marc Staal, who hasn’t played since Feb. 22 after suffering a concussion, could be cleared for contact this week and could make his season debut within the next two weeks (PHT notes: Yes, that’s a lot of “coulds”.)
Brooks also notes that Michael Sauer, sidelined since Dec. 5 with post-concussion syndrome, “seems to be improving” — though the organization hasn’t offered anything official regarding his health.
These are big developments on two fronts. One, New York is getting bodies back as the Winter Classic draws closer — which is in direct contrast to the Flyers, who have been ravaged by injury (though they did just get Claude Giroux back in the lineup).
Two, it presents some questions for head coach John Tortorella. Getting Wolski back will likely push New York’s extra forwards — Sean Avery and Erik Christensen, neither of whom play much — deeper into oblivion. Avery’s already expressed frustration over sitting out and Christensen can’t be happy with his role, having only dressed in four of New York’s 12 games this month.
There’s also the question of when to get Staal back into the lineup. He’s said he’d like to return in time for the Winter Classic, but neither he nor the team wants to risk a potential recovery setback. That said, the Rangers blueline is rather thin with Steve Eminger out (separated shoulder) and Jeff Woywitka on the limp. In their last game before the Christmas break, Torts went almost exclusively with four D as Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Anton Stralman all played over 24 minutes in a 4-2 win over Philly.
- Report: Leiweke to head up Olympic bid in Los Angeles 9
- In praise of John Tavares 14
- It’s New York Islanders Day at PHT 26
- McDavid on teams possibly tanking for him: ‘It’s pretty crazy’ 19
- Fanspeak: Lemieux (stunner!) voted greatest Penguin in franchise history 39
- Under Pressure: Mike Johnston 17
- It’s Pittsburgh Penguins Day at PHT 33
- Captain no more: Sharks strip Thornton of ‘C’ 47
- Tank defense: NHL changes up Draft Lottery format 55
- Fanspeak: Clarke voted greatest Flyer in franchise history 40