Though offense remains a central problem for the New York Rangers, the Blueshirts could be getting a big boost on their blue line Monday night. Defenseman Marc Staal has been activated off injured reserve, making him available for New York's crucial Game 3 against the Washington Capitals. Staal was placed on IR after a scary incident March 5, in which he took a puck to his right eye.
That Staal has been activated is a good sign, but it does not guarantee he will play in Game 3. He is at the very least least available now.
It's good news for the Rangers to get one of their top defensemen back, but even better for Staal, who may be lucky he wasn't more seriously injured. That said, Staal has had blurred vision in his right eye since the incident.
Staal returned to practice a month ago, but explained he was still suffering from blurred vision and earlier this week told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News that his eyesight was not noticeably improving.
When Staal first returned to the ice, he said the blurry eyesight in his right eye was improving gradually. On Thursday, when asked if that were still the case, Staal said: “Not that I can noticeably tell. I'm getting used to it. It could be three, four months and still gradually improving, the doctors said. So honestly I can't really gauge (whether it will continue to improve).”
Staal also explained to Leonard that he would not want to put his team in a bad position if he couldn't get the job done in his current condition.
“[R]ight now the stakes are too high and the guys in there have been doing a great job. I don't want to compromise that by going out there and not being able to compete at a high level. I'll have to sit there and watch.”
Activating Staal is a positive step, but if there are concerns about his vision -- something that isn't to be taken lightly -- he probably shouldn't play. However, if medically cleared and Staal feels he can compete at the appropriate level to contribute, he'd be a big addition for a team currently down 2-0 in their series against Washington.
The Rangers can also better manage the matchups at home with owning the last line change to ease Staal back into game action, as Katie Strang of ESPN.com wrote Monday.
Before suffering the injury, Staal had 11 points and a plus-4 rating in 21 games for the Rangers this season. He was also a key contributor during New York's run to the Eastern Conference Final last season.