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Injured Rangers recovering well ahead of training camp

Bobby Bevilacqua

mats zuccarello 3-10

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

While every team certainly deals with injuries in the playoffs, the Rangers had quite a lot of significant health issues to some of their key players during their run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The captain Ryan McDonagh broke his foot in Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal had procedures done on their ankles, and Derick Brassard had to undergo wrist surgery. And of course, Mats Zuccarello missed the last two rounds of the playoffs with the worst injury, after being struck on the side of the head by a puck.

The puck came off of the stick of Ryan McDonagh, as a slap shot went awry and hit Zuccarello upside the head during Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nobody officially knew the extent of the injuries until after the playoffs.

After the Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs, it was revealed that Zuccarello had a serious head injury that he was recovering from, including a brain contusion and a small skull fracture, both of which led to some bleeding on the brain.

“I had a small fracture in my head,” Said Zuccarello in an interview back in May. “I lost my talking and some feeling in my arm. I was in the hospital for three days. I couldn’t talk for a while, there was some blood on my brain.”

Mats Zuccarello profile 3-24

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

That injury meant that the Rangers were without one of their key players for two very important rounds in the playoffs. His ability to drive possession and his playmaking skills were sorely missed on the top line, and it was a key part of the team’s failure to get past the Lightning in the Conference Finals.

Zuccarello had to go through speech therapy as he worked his way back to full health, and seems that he is okay, and ready to play hockey once again. We all speculated this based on his participation in his 2015 Zuccarello All-Star Game in Norway, and his travels and charity work. But in an interview with NHL’s Dan Rosen, Alain Vigneault confirmed everyone’s speculation.

“I’ve heard he’s 100 percent from our medical staff,” Vigneault said. He’s been cleared to skate and have contact. He’s made a full recovery, so we’re very pleased about that. He’s a big part of our team.”

The Rangers are not the same team when Mats Zuccarello isn’t in the lineup, a fact that was clearly evident in the second and third rounds. They miss his creativity, his passing ability, presence on the power play and his ability to spark a comeback at any moment. Having him with the team is a massive boost to the lineup.

Ryan McDonagh also suffered a pretty serious injury in the playoffs, breaking his foot in Game 4 against the Lightning. Amazingly, he played the final three games with a lot of pain and discomfort, and needed time to recover following the Rangers elimination. He has been back on the ice through August, and recently spoke with Dan Rosen regarding his recovery.

ryan mcdonagh shooting 2-2

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

“It’s safe to say it’s getting better every day and feeling pretty much 100 percent at this point now,” said McDonagh. “We said June 1st was the starting date, so we’re more than two-and-a-half months in. I’m back skating on the ice, doing leg strength stuff in the weight room, running and jumping. I’m really trying to put it all behind me now and gear up here for the start of training camp.”

While he did not require surgery, he did have to wear a boot for a month and avoid any exercise or strenuous activity involving his injured foot. Now he’s practicing and skating, fully expected to join his teammates at training camp. He had some ups and downs this season as he learned the roles of being a captain, but he finished the year strong, playing some very tough minutes in the playoffs and helping the Rangers win.

On top of that, Derick Brassard, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal all had procedures done this offseason, and all of them are expected to be ready for training camp. Derick Brassard had surgery on his wrist for an undisclosed injury, and he’s six weeks into his recovery, well past the expected healing time. Dan Girardi had a procedure called a bursa excision on his ankle to remove a fluid buildup. And Marc Staal had bone chips removed from his ankle, an injury that was nagging him before the playoffs even started.

The only player who will not be ready for training camp in September is goalie prospect Mackenzie Skapski, who had hip surgery to fix a labral tear in his right hip, taking place back on June 2nd with a recovery time of four to five months. Skapski is known for backing up Cam Talbot while Henrik Lundqvist was injured during the regular season. He spoke with the Rangers own Jim Cerny regarding his injury and recovery.

“Things are progressing just how I want them,” said Skapski. “Things are right on track, so I can’t complain. It was a wear and tear type of injury and eventually we needed to get it done and it just so happened that I had to get it done this year. I feel great now and I’m expecting a full, speedy recovery.”

Newly acquired Magnus Hellberg will compete for starts in the AHL while Skapski is sidelined. Once he makes a full recovery, expect the two of them to split time in Hartford.

Thankfully, the Rangers have had nothing but good news regarding the health of some very important players. Following a few months of rest and recovery, combined with new and old faces, Alain Vigneault and his squad will be ready and determined to make yet another run at a Championship title for the 2015-16 season.

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Posted on August 23, 2015, in Rangers Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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