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McIlrath Out "A Couple Of Weeks" With Knee Injury

by Jim Cerny / New York Rangers

What at first was thought to be an injury which would sideline him on a day to day basis now finds Rangers rookie defenseman Dylan McIlrath on the shelf "for a couple of weeks" according to head coach Alain Vigneault.

After being re-evaluated by team medical personnel McIlrath found out that his right kneecap injury is a bit more serious than first anticipated, though not considered to be a major setback either. The injured kneecap is not the same one he dislocated during prospects camp back in 2012. That injury, which necessitated surgery and forced him to miss half of the following season, was to his left kneecap.

When asked if this would open a spot among the team's seven-man defense corps for fellow rookie Brady Skjei who was recalled on an emergency basis from Hartford on Monday, Vigneault would not provide a definitive answer, citing salary cap concerns first and foremost.

Skjei will play tonight against the Buffalo Sabres since both McIlrath and Marc Staal are unavailable on defense. Staal is also back in New York, set to miss his second consecutive game due to back spasms. Vigneault said that Staal is feeling better, but did not skate once again today.

The 21 year-old Skjei will pair with veteran Dan Boyle on the blue line tonight. The 2012 first rounder appeared in three games with the Rangers earlier this season, and Vigneault did say that the club may need him down the final stretch of the season.

Though Staal did not skate today, both Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist did work out on ice with goaltending coach Benoit Allaire at the MSG Training Center. Vigneault indicated that both injured stars "had a real good day" and that Lundqvist--who will miss his third straight game due to neck spasms this evening--is on track to play this weekend. According to the head coach, Nash is right there, too, and if he's not yet quite ready to play Saturday in Detroit or Sunday at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins then he should be back in the lineup next week when the club embarks on a three-game road trip to California.

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