The one thing about when your lineup is decimated by injuries is, things can usually only get better. On Wednesday night, as the Rangers finish up a four-game home stand against the Red Wings, the Blueshirts will welcome back two regulars as both Kevin Klein and Mats Zuccarello are expected to play, per head coach Alain Vigneault.
AV says "Klein should be back in for McIlrath tonight" and that he expects Zuccarello to play too. #NYR— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 5, 2014
The Klein news may come as a bit of a surprise, as many assumed the injured Rangers defensemen still needed to be further evaluated after he was forced out of Saturday's game after blocking a shot with his foot. While his x-rays came back negative, it had been reported the team was waiting for the swelling to subside to get a more definitive diagnosis. But Klein participated in morning skate Wednesday with no limitations, seeing time in every drill, and working in on the penalty kill.
With Klein back in, the assumption is Dylan McIlrath will be the odd-defenseman-out, and will most likely be returned to Hartford. No idea how the Vigneault will pair his defensemen for tonight, but with Klein, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Matt Hunwick, Michael Kostka, and Conor Allen, the team appears to have its six, for the time being. Tonight will be the third game John Moore has served on his five-game suspension.
Not a huge surprise to see Zuccarello back in. The Rangers forward missed Monday night's game against St. Louis with an undisclosed lower-body injury, but was also a full participant at skate, getting time on power play drills, and looking good to go against the Red Wings. Ryan Malone will be the player to take a seat with Zuccarello's return.
The only other update from skate pertains to Derek Stepan and Dan Boyle. The former again was out and participating in regular drills, while he's yet to get the 'OK' from Vigneault to make his season debut. Boyle was on the ice Wednesday morning in a yellow non-contact jersey, and while he watched when the team worked on special teams, he was shooting during other drills, another step forward in his comeback.