Amidst the jubilation resulting from Tuesday night’s 4-3 come-from-behind shootout win over the Minnesota Wild, the New York Rangers and their fans have to be holding their breath with respect to the team’s health.
Specifically, forwards Julien Gauthier and Chris Kreider both suffered upper-body injuries that forced them to leave the game. There’s no definitive prognosis on either right now, but the Rangers should know more on Wednesday, at which point we’ll provide updates here.
#NYR say upper body injuries for both Kreider and Gauthier, will know more tomorrow— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) January 11, 2023
Gauthier left in the first period after getting sandwiched and hit up high by a combination of old pal Ryan Reaves and Brandon Duhaime. The head contact makes one worry about a possible concussion, but for now that’s only speculation.
Kreider, whose possible absence would leave a gaping hole in the Rangers’ lineup — especially with how dominant his line with Mika Zibanejad and Kaapo Kakko has looked recently — took a hit from the Wild’s Marcus Foligno in the third period. He went back to the bench in visible pain, with an apparent arm/shoulder injury. He left for the locker room soon thereafter and did not return.
Kreider takes a bump from Foligno and goes straight to the bench early in a shift. Getting some attention from a trainer, staying on the bench for now.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) January 11, 2023
Kreider going to the locker room during the TV timeout. Left arm dangling a bit limp.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) January 11, 2023
Again, further updates to come in this article as we learn more.
UPDATE (Jan. 11):
There is some good news and bad news coming out of an optional practice the Rangers had on Wednesday.
The good news: Gauthier is fine and shouldn’t miss any time. He mentioned the hit described above, but thankfully, there are no lasting effects at this point.
Crunched between two players* he said, my mind just instantly went to boards— Mollie Walker (@MollieeWalkerr) January 11, 2023
Now for the bad news: Kreider will miss the Rangers’ next game, Thursday at home against the very solid Dallas Stars. One positive, however, is that head coach Gerard Gallant doesn’t think that Kreider will be out long-term. (Of course, take that with a grain of salt based on past history.)
Another silver lining is that this means an increased opportunity for Alexis Lafrenière. He will play on the top line with Zibanejad and Kakko, in a reunion of a trio the Rangers tried recently but from which they quickly veered away. Moreover, it seems as though Lafrenière will take Kreider’s net-front role on the top power-play unit as well. While it’s debatable as to whether that is the best particular spot for his skill set, getting him power-play minutes on that top unit in any capacity should be good for his development.