Keith Yandle plays through a shoulder sprain and turns up the offense in the Eastern Conference finals.
Ryan McDonagh wasn’t the only Ranger playing through an injury in the playoffs. Dan Girardi (Grade one MCL sprain), Marc Staal (hairline fracture in ankle) and Keith Yandle (AC sprain) were among those battling ailments, as well.
Those topics, along with Martin St. Louis’ future, and more were discussed at the team’s breakup day on Monday in Greenburgh.
THE CAPTAIN STEPS FORWARD
Ryan McDonagh hobbled into the locker room on Monday afternoon on crutches and a walking boot on his right foot. The Rangers captain suffered a broken right foot during Game 4 the Eastern Conference finals when a shot struck him, but continued to play through the pain for the rest of the series.
“It was tough (to play). I really had to simplify, had to be pretty passive in my gap to make sure that I wasn’t getting beat as often. Obviously I couldn’t be as aggressive offensively as I wanted to be and you need to be in order to create and give us a chance to win,” McDonagh said. “I tried my best and the guys were very supportive in helping me out and making sure we were all pulling for each other.”
McDonagh said he expects to get a follow-up X-Ray next week and will remain on crutches and in the boot for four more weeks before being re-evaluated.
During Game 7 warm-ups, McDonagh wasn’t sure if he’d be able to play. Alain Vigneault dressed defenseman Matt Hunwick and benched James Sheppard as a precaution. But after playing sparingly in the opening period between trips to the locker room, McDonagh gutted it out and played big minutes in the latter two periods.
“I went out for warm-ups there in Game 7 and I didn’t think I was going to be able to make an impact,” McDonagh said. “I went off before the start of the game, we tried some stuff in between and then I went off again and I had to get the whole foot and leg basically taped up again. We tried another solution, I came back and it was better, good enough to play a regular shift and feel like I could make a difference.”
ON THE MARC
Marc Staal played through pain for the duration of the playoffs. The Rangers defenseman confirmed on Monday afternoon that he suffered a “small fracture” on the outside of his left ankle near the end of the regular season after taking a shot to the leg.
“It was just a frustrating, kind of annoying thing,” Staal said. “It was right around where some ligaments were running so it was just a thing where when I kept playing on it, it just kept swelling and it wasn’t really healing. So we were just freezing it through all the playoffs.”
Staal said that there is a possibility that he will need surgery, but expects to make a full recovery and be ready for training camp.
“Wait a couple of weeks. If it’s not better – it’s like a little chip of bone on the outside they might have to take out if it’s not better,” Staal said. “But other than that I’ll probably just take three weeks and see where it’s at.”
MARTY WILL TAKE SOME TIME
Martin St. Louis’ career as a Ranger is likely over, but the veteran wasn’t quite ready to speculate on his future a mere three days after the Blueshirts were eliminated by the Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
“It’s a couple of days from being knocked out. I’ll get a chance to reflect and see where that takes me,” said St. Louis, who will turn 40 in two weeks. “I’m not sure which direction the team is going, so it’s tough to comment. But I’ve been blessed to play parts of two years here for a great organization. We’ll see where that takes me. But the opportunity to play for a Cup last year and one win away again this year…it’s an experience that I’ll never forget.”
St. Louis, who was brutal for most of the postseason, admitted getting knocked out by his former team made the Rangers elimination even tougher to swallow.
“Probably a little bit, you know? Clearly, there are a lot of guys I played with (on the Lightning) last year, trainers, a lot of friends on the other side. It’s tough to see them knock you out. For sure, it was a tough thing,” St. Louis said. “I think it’s always difficult to watch a final when you get knocked out. I’ve been on both sides a couple of times. It’s a tough thing to watch a Final when you know you were so close to it.”
YANDLE SHOULDERS RESPONSIBILITY
If you’re wondering why Keith Yandle waited until the third round of the postseason to start producing consistently, perhaps a sprained AC joint could shoulder some of the blame. The Rangers defenseman said he sustained a sprained AC joint in his shoulder after being hit by Penguins defenseman Blake Comeau in Game 2 of the first-round.
“I was banged up, but I think everybody is. Nobody feels 100%. Time to get healthy now,” Yandle said Monday afternoon. “When I got hurt against Pittsburgh, it took some time to kind of heal. I think when we had a few days rest there to get better, get healthy, the longer we went it got better and better. I was as close to 100% in this last series.”
OH, YOU AGAIN
The Rangers re-acquired their own original 2015 seventh-round draft pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday in exchange for defenseman Daniel Walcott, 21, the Blueshirts’ fifth-round (140th overall) pick in 2014.
The Rangers originally had shipped their 2015 seventh-rounder to the Lightning as part of the Martin St. Louis-Ryan Callahan trade on March 5, 2014. Glen Sather also surrendered two first-round picks in the deal.
Callahan and the Lightning are now four wins away from the Stanley Cup after eliminating the Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals.
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