RALEIGH NC - JANUARY 29: Eric Staal #12 of the Carolina Hurricanes and Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers skate on the ice before the Honda NHL SuperSkills competition part of 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend at the RBC Center on January 29 2011 in Raleigh North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
There's been much concern surrounding defensemen Marc Staal (head) and Michael Sauer (knee) so far in training camp, but both made positive steps in the right direction during today's workouts. Beginning with Staal, he was sent home upon arriving to the rink yesterday because he was "not feeling well". That was a result of the post-concussion-like symptoms he's been suffering from since the summer, and let's be honest here, I think all of our hearts stopped when we heard that news.
Not for long, however, as Staal took the ice earlier this afternoon for drills and practice, per the team. That's a sign that the symptoms may be wearing off a bit since they do not hit him hard everyday. At the same time, though, it does not mean that they are completely gone either. See the tricky thing with concussions is that you could feel great one day, and then completely horrible the next.
So the fact that he was able to skate today was a good sign, yes, but it doesn't necessarily mean that Staal is completely out of the woods just yet. The Rangers will most likely have him participate in practice for the next week and monitor how he feels each day. If he can get through the workouts without relapses like yesterday's, then he should be good to go for opening night. If not, well, then there is a problem.
Meanwhile, Michael Sauer continued his quick recovery from tendinitis in his knee when he hit the ice on his own today in order to take the conditioning/skating test that he sat out for on day one of camp. The Rangers have slowly eased Mike back into action here and I would say that they would not let him perform this excruciating test if he was not completely up for it, therefore making my educated guess that he hasn't been suffering from any serious pain over the last couple of days.
Sauer obviously doesn't have the value to the team that Staal does, but it is just as important that he is back in the lineup as soon as possible. Sauer was a top four defenseman on the club last year and anytime someone like that goes down there is going to be quite a sizable gap to fill. Thankfully it looks like it will not get to that point, though.