This wasn’t just a return from the All-Star Weekend for the team, and it wasn’t just a congratulations to Derek Stepan, Marc Staal, or Henrik Lundqvist, either. Last night’s game marked the return of three injured Rangers whom we all know and love. Dan “The Great Wall of” Girardi, Ryan “Workhorse” Callahan, and Brandon “I Am THE Ranger” Dubinsky all returned from various injuries last night to play in front of the Broadway faithful.
Dubs wasn’t expected to be back this quickly from his leg injury, but you won’t hear any fan complain. The Rangers have been riddled with big injuries all season and have been losing one huge player after another. Rangers’ Captain Chris Drury has missed 31 games himself with a broken hand and then re-injuring it on his return game. Superstar Marian Gaborik has missed 14 games this year so far, mostly from his month long absence in the beginning of the season, and some around Christmas. And of course, you can’t forget about losing the big offseason signing of Alex Frolov for the entire season with a torn MCL. In fact, only 6 Rangers have played every game this season thus far, one of those being All-Star Marc Staal. Also among the elite are team leader in goals at 18, Brian Boyle, and Rookie of The Year candidate, Derek Stepan, who has 30 points and is also returning from the All-Star weekend.
Both Dubs and Cally participated in the 7 round shootout (which was highly uneventful), but were unable to find the back of the net to help secure a win. However, during the game both found points on their return to the Garden. Dubinsky got an assist in to Anisimov’s goal which made the game 2-0 at the time and when the Penguins fought back and took the lead, it was Mr. Ryan Callahan who slipped one past Marc-Andre Fluery to tie the game at 3. Both goalies in this game, Fluery and Lundqvist, were in shootout situations on Saturday for the Skills Challenge, but were on the same team (Team Staal). This time, they squared off against each other, both putting away each shot until Mr. Nobody, Dustin Jeffrey scored on Hank that propelled the Penguins to the victory.
The biggest story of the night came from a Staal. No not about Marc and his first All-Star game appearance, but about Jordan, the only NHL Staal to not make the ASG (due to injuries this season). In a play that involved lots of board action in the neutral zone, Brandon Prust comes from out of nowhere to lay a hit on a Penguin, that Penguin was Tyler Kennedy. In retaliation and sticking up for his team, Staal came around to Prust, shoved him and then sucker-punched him with a left hook. No doubt in anyone’s mind, Brandon did a fantastic job of acting and Jordan Staal was given a 5-minute match penalty and ejected from the game. He’s automatically suspended for one-game as well.
As you can see, it wasn’t anything severe, just Prust played it out perfectly. Prust sat out the rest of the 2nd period, but returned in the 3rd. More than likely to aid the selling process, which the NHL refs bought up in gross amount. I will admit, I hope Staal doesn’t get any more of a punishment for the incident. It’s just hockey, and we all know that tempers flair during any game. Prust on the play:
“It was kind of surprising, it happened quick, he caught me on the sweet spot, i got my bell run,” said Prust, who sat out the rest of the second period but played in the third. “It was just more the surprise. I told Rammer (trainer Jim Ramsey) I was ready to go. They checked me over. I think it was all a reaction (by Jordan Staal). I came in and hit a guy (Tyler Kennedy) and he came in and stuck up for him. He threw a punch. I agree with the call (a five-minute match penalty for intent to injure and a game misconduct). Stuff happens on the ice. I’m happy he did, we got a five-minute penalty. Thank you.”
The shootout consisted of 14 total shots, with only one going past a netminder. Lundqvist slammed his stick in anger as he walked off the ice. You know he blames himself for letting the one score, but you have to be a little upset at the team who had 7 opportunities to get a nod and could not do it. The shootout in it’s entirety, just in case you missed it: