When they face off with the Detroit Red Wings Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in their regular season finale, the Rangers will be missing four players from their usual lineup. Forwards Mats Zuccarello and Viktor Stalberg both are suffering from lower body injuries and will join injured defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi in not playing Saturday.
"Viktor could not play tomorrow for sure, but I don't think it's anything serious," explained head coach Alain Vigneault following a brief practice at the MSG Training Center on Friday afternoon. "Mats would be less than 50-50 if we were to push it. They both should be fine (for the playoffs)."
It will be the first game Zuccarello misses this season. He is the team's leading scorer with a career-high 61 points, and is second on the club with 25 goals. Yesterday Zuccarello was named the winner of the club's 2016 Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award as voted by the fans.
Stalberg appeared in 75 games this season for the Rangers, scoring nine goals and totaling 20 points. He missed only two games because of injury this season--back in late October--and was a healthy scratch four other times. Stalberg has not missed a game since December 22, and has become one of the team's most consistent performers, settling in to a fourth-line role alongside Tanner Glass and Dominic Moore.
Rookie Oscar Lindberg draws back into the lineup to play for only the second time in the past 12 games on Saturday. He has 12 goals and 26 points in 67 games played this season.
The Rangers will also need to recall a forward from the Hartford Wolf Pack on an emergency basis for Saturday's game. Vigneault said that 24 year-old Marek Hrivik likely would be the player called up by the Blueshirts. Down in Hartford Hrivik is second on the team with a career-best 40 points in 66 games played. He also appeared in four games earlier this season with the Rangers, the first four of his NHL career, and picked up one assist.
McDonagh will miss his third consecutive game with an upper body injury on Saturday, while Girardi will sit out his second straight. When asked if he expected Girardi to be ready for the start of the playoffs next week, Vigneault replied, "Yes".
Rookie defensemen Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath will once again takes the places of McDonagh and Girardi against the Red Wings. Skjei has appeared in six games with the Rangers this season while McIlrath has played in 33.
"Every time he's on the ice, he grows as a player, gets more experience," Vigneault said of the 22 year-old Skjei, New York's first round pick in the 2012 draft. "He'll play again tomorrow. We've liked what we've seen, so far."
Vigneault also stated that Antti Raanta will start in goal for the Rangers on Saturday. Raanta, who played a spotless third period in Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Islanders, is 10-6-2 with a 2.26 GAA and .918 save percentage this season in 24 appearances.