After practice today, Ryan Lindgren told the media that he was good to go and he was going to return to the lineup for their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. This will be the second time Lindgren will be coming back from the same injury he suffered in Washington on February 25th. He tried to return on March 21st against the Hurricanes, but he injured his shoulder again and has been out of the lineup since.
So now that he feels good to go, the question is should he be playing right before the toughest games of the year in the playoffs? We all know how important Lindgren is to this team and if he gets injured again before the playoffs, it could lead to an early exit for the Blueshirts this spring.
What many people do not remember from last season is that Lindgren got injured in Game 82 of the regular season(coincidentally against the Capitals again) and that caused him to miss three games in the first-found versus the Penguins. The Rangers were down 3-1 in the series when Lindgren returned for Game 5.
He scored the empty-net goal to seal the win and was a key factor in the Rangers’ comeback during that series. While he did play injured the rest of the way, he still played well enough to help the Rangers reach the Conference Final. With this knowledge, should the Rangers risk it again with him as they come down the final stretch of the season?
Lindgren has missed 17 of the last 18 games with this injury and while we can’t speculate what truly happened, it has been serious enough to keep him out of this long stretch. We all know the kind of warrior Lindgren is and we know that he likes to play through the pain. So, to see him out for this long shows just how serious the injury was.
Why should the Rangers play him again when a wrong hit or one wrong movement could cause another injury and keep him out of the lineup again? The Lightning seems like the worst opponent to bring him back against since these teams have bad blood from the playoffs last season it could be the last tune-up game for both teams in their final stretch of games.
The counterpoint is that since Lindgren has missed so many games, he should get in some games as the Rangers start the playoffs in two weeks. It is also a fact that playoff teams who have clinched their spot like to rest their top players, so these games might not be as physical or tough.
After they play the Lightning, the Rangers have two games against non-playoff teams, one against a team in the wildcard race and a final game against the Leafs, which should be a calm game as both teams look to rest players. So, these last few games seem like a good time to bring Lindgren back, but it is also still a concern that he could be injured again.
The final five games for the Rangers could be an interesting stretch of games. Can Lindgren come back and play well? Can he stay healthy as the playoffs are just a few weeks away? Will the Rangers pull him out again if they feel like he is not 100% good to go? Time will tell if playing Lindgren before the playoffs is a smart choice or not.