Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rangers Regrouping with Zuccarello Out

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rangers Regrouping with Zuccarello Out

Article excerpt

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Rangers have relied on their depth all season, through injuries to their forwards, defensemen and franchise goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, who missed two months of the regular season.

That must be the case again as the Presidents' Trophy winners prepare for the Capitals and their second-round series, which is likely to open Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Right wing Mats Zuccarello is now out, but defenseman Kevin Klein is ready to return to the lineup after breaking his left arm on March 11.

"We've got a lot of depth and that's always a positive, especially come playoff time when you need guys to step up and fill roles," Klein said. "Anyone who's gone down, there's been somebody to fill that role and do it well."

The team announced on Monday shortly after its optional practice at the MSG Training Center concluded that Zuccarello is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. It is a suspected concussion after Zuccarello was hit in the head with the puck on captain Ryan McDonagh's slap shot in the first period of the Rangers' decisive 2- 1 overtime victory over the Penguins on Friday.

"He brings a lot to the table, the way he plays," Lundqvist said. "A lot of energy. He can open up the game with his passing so, obviously, we're going to miss that. He's definitely an important player to this team."

Zuccarello, 27, had 15 goals and 34 assists in the regular season and was a key contributor to his line's success, with left wing Rick Nash setting a career high with 42 goals and center Derick Brassard setting career highs with 19 goals and 60 points.

With Zuccarello out, James Sheppard is expected to enter the lineup as a fourth-line wing. Coach Alain Vigneault said he's likely to elevate right wing Jesper Fast to the third line and move Marty St. Louis to Zuccarello's spot with Brassard and Nash.

Sheppard, who turned 27 on Saturday, had two goals in 14 games for the Rangers after being acquired from the Sharks on March 1. …

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