At one point in the first period last night in Pittsburgh, it seemed as if this team was dropping like flies—as Marian Gaborik was huffing and puffing in pain on the bench, Michael Del Zotto left the game with a giant gash under his left rib, and Ryan Callahan rocking back and forth after hurting his hand/wrist.
Gaborik and Del Zotto would not return to the game, but Callahan was apparently fine after the initial pain, because he came out and played a huge part in the 3-2 overtime win after the incident.
Starting with Del Zotto, the rookie defenseman played just over a minute before falling on Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin's skate in the corner. The skate blade lacerated the skin by his left rib cage, which required a total of fifty stitches by team doctors on the scene.
“I thought maybe my ribs were bruised at first, but I thought I’d take a check with my hand and I saw blood,” Del Zotto told Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants . “I tried not to look at it. Apparently it was pretty gross. There was a lot of gauze, a lot of blood. I don’t feel good. It’s not one of my better days.”
Based on that, and I am speculating here, I would say the 19-year-old will be questionable for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden. I would be surprised if he is able to play, and I do not feel that he should push himself to do so because it will just make matters worst.
I guess you could look at the bright side and say that he does have a two week break to recover from the injury and allow the wound to heal and close up.
As for Marian Gaborik, the Rangers leading scorer told head coach John Tortorella after warm-ups that he would be able to play. Obviously he over-estimated himself because once I saw him gliding on the ice and barely able to turn, I knew he would not last the game.
Just because something is stitched up it does not mean that it is healed and good to go. It still will be extremely sore and cause you much pain if you put a lot of pressure on it.
Give Gaborik credit for pushing himself and showing guts in making an attempt to tough it out and play, but in hockey, especially when you are a player who's game depends on speed, you are not going to last enduring excruciating pain in the leg like that.
Plus, I am sure he does not want to be dealing with that sharp pain in the Olympics next week when he participates for Team Slovakia.
So like Del Zotto, I would say Gaborik is questionable for tomorrow's contest. It is the Lightning after all, who the Blueshirts defeated 8-2 the last time they met at MSG, so it is not like Gaborik is a complete necessity.
I said on the blog in my Rangers-Penguins pregame preview yesterday that Gaborik should sit out and allow this team to learn how to win without him. I think they accomplished that last night, using determination to propel them to an overtime victory. So why can't they do that again for one more game against the Bolts?
A rare free Saturday for the Rangers so there will be no game coverage and I do not expect much news. I will be back later today, hopefully with a bit more on the status of Gaborik and Del Zotto if we hear anything after the noon practice. In the meantime, I will be preparing for my trip to Vancouver which will begin on Tuesday.
UPDATE: Andrew Gross has just confirmed on Twitter that the Rangers have recalled defenseman Corey Potter from Hartford (AHL), so I would assume Del Zotto will not be able to play tomorrow against the Bolts.
(Photo courtesy of Reuters Pictures)