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Rangers ready to win without Staal

by Dan Rosen /
STOCKHOLM -- They can't replace him, but the Rangers say they can still win without star defenseman Marc Staal, who remains back in New York dealing with post-concussion symptoms.

Their first test comes Friday night here against the Los Angeles Kings in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere.

"You're to have injuries and you just have to accept it. You can't see it as a great problem for your club," Henrik Lundqvist told Friday morning. "Whatever we have here now is going to work for us. That's the way you have to think. Whenever he comes, he's going to be welcomed here, but right now it's up to us and I think we're going to do well."

There is no timetable on when Staal will return.

Rangers GM and President Glen Sather told the New York Post that he could be out a month, but if the headaches go away he'll be back sooner. If the headaches persist, Staal's absence could linger beyond November.

It's impossible to predict.

"He's not here with us right now so we have to get going without him," Dan Girardi, who takes over as the team's No. 1 blue-liner in Staal's absence, told "We have a bunch of D here right now that can play and we're all going to step up our game in his absence and hopefully bring a little extra to fill the hole."

Ryan McDonagh said the Rangers five-man defensive system should help minimize the effect of losing Staal.

"We play a whole five-man unit defensive system in our D zone so not everything relies on the D-men," McDonagh told "If you play defense as a team it helps solidify everything."

McDonagh, who played 40 games as a rookie last season, will start Friday's game with Girardi on the top pair. Michael Del Zotto, who entered camp just trying to make it through all the cuts, will play on the second pair with Michael Sauer. Tim Erixon will be making his NHL debut Friday night on the third pair with Steve Eminger.

New addition Jeff Woywitka, who arrived here Friday morning, and Brendan Bell are the scratches for Friday's game.

"I don't think anyone is going to be playing out of their comfort zone and trying to do too much," Girardi told "I'm still going to play my game and the other guys are going to play their game. Just because Marc is not here doesn't mean we're going to step out of our roles."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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