NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Trainer Jim Ramsey leads Michael Sauer #38 of the New York Rangers off teh ice after a hit by Dion Phaneuf #3 (not shown) at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2011 in New York City. The Leafs defeated the Rangers 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
You can file this into the "not surprising at all, but it's still a really bad thing" file.
Michael Sauer, who was concussed after a hit from Dion Phaneuf in the New York Rangers's loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, will not make the trip to Buffalo for the Rangers upcoming game against the Sabres according to Andrew Gross.
The Rangers, who are already down Marc Staal to a concussion, replaced Sauer with Anton Stralman in Thursday night's 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. And while Stralman didn't have a bad game, the Rangers aren't in a position where they can lose Sauer for an extended period of time.
It also doesn't help that John Tortorella needed to shelter the third defensive pairing (just 10 minutes for Stralman and nearly nine minutes for Jeff Woywitka) which forced Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh to play 32 and 27 minutes respectively. Michael Del Zotto also got hit hard, playing over 26 minutes himself.
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Both Girardi and McDonagh are already playing at a breakneck pace, and that's not going to stop anytime soon (or at least for the duration of Sauer's injury). The problem? It's a head injury. While it doesn't seem to be too serious, and Tortorella has listed Sauer as day-to-day, there's simply no way of knowing when he will be back.
The Staal situation is a perfect example of an injury that didn't seem to be too bad take on a life of its own. I'm not saying that's going to happen to Sauer, but it's something to be aware of.
Stralman was brought in for a reason though, and this is exactly where that comes into play. Stralman was held out of games when he first signed, and spend a significant amount of time both learning the system and Tortorella's style of play. That might be a factor that behooves the Rangers as they are forced to baptize Stralman by fire.
We'll keep you posted on any updates on Sauer's condition. Until then, thoughts?