Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Injury Updates on Sauer, Del Zotto

The Rangers lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 last night, but the bigger concern was the possibility of them losing both Michael Sauer and Michael Del Zotto long-term due to injuries. Sauer was rocked on a huge hit along the boards from Dion Phaneuf (it was a clean hit, by the way) and looked to hit his head on the boards as he was going down to the ice, losing his helmet in the process. Just a few minutes later, Del Zotto got tangled up with David Steckel going after the puck to touch up for an icing and he took an ugly spill head-first into the boards. Del Zotto looked banged up and seemed to have jarred his shoulder, but he returned a few minutes later. Sauer, however, did not.

The Rangers had no official update on either player today since the team was off, but Larry Brooks wrote in the New York Post this morning that "it's likely that [Michael Sauer] sustained a concussion" on the hit from Phaneuf. Needless to say, hopefully that's not the case. Sauer has been a gigantic part of the Rangers' defense ever since he made the team last year out of training camp, and his role has only grown even more with Marc Staal out. If it is indeed a concussion, there's no telling when we'll see Michael Sauer again since, as we've seen with Staal, the recovery process is completely unpredictable. John Tortorella didn't have an update on Sauer after the game last night, but I expect we'll hear more on him tomorrow at practice.

As for Del Zotto, he spoke to the media following the game last night and, courtesy of Andrew Gross, confirmed that he was just banged up from the collision, so it doesn't look like he'll miss any time. Del Zotto said that the play was a good example of why he believes the NHL should change to the no-touch icing call that they have in Europe. The play Del Zotto got hurt on was simply a bang-bang play with him and Steckel both racing for the puck, and most times when they happens the ending isn't pretty. But the good news here is that Del Zotto seems to be fine.

If Sauer is out for an extended period of time, I expect that means we'll be seeing a lot more of Anton Stralman, who has appeared in just one game with the Rangers this season (a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers back on Nov. 23) since signing a one-year deal with the team in early November. The Rangers simply don't have any other better alternatives right now. The only kid who the Rangers may have even considered would have been Tim Erixon, but he's been out with an undisclosed injury since last Wednesday for the Connecticut Whale. And let's face it - if the Rangers thought they had anyone else better than Stralman, they wouldn't have signed him in the first place.

We'll see what happens from practice tomorrow. At the very least I would expect Sauer to be out of the lineup Thursday, but maybe the Rangers can have some luck go their way and his head injury won't turn out to be serious.

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