Status of injured Mats Zuccarello still unclear
Web linksSteve Zipay's Blue Notes
GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Injured winger Derek Dorsett could be ready for the Rangers' first post-Olympic game next week, but the future availability of leading scorer Mats Zuccarello remained unclear Thursday night.
Zuccarello, who has 43 points, was slashed during Norway's game against Austria in Sochi and has a non-displaced fracture of the left hand. He was examined by Dr. Martin Posner, a hand specialist, Thursday. But Thursday night, the Rangers did not provide an update on the status of Zuccarello, who flew to New York from Russia. A team spokesman said he expects an update Friday.
"Every four years, players get the opportunity to represent their country . . . and [injuries] are the risks that come with the game," coach Alain Vigneault said after 14 players skated in the team's first practice since the start of the Olympic break. "It's unfortunate that it happened to Mats, and hopefully it won't be that long."
Zuccarello has 15 goals in 58 games, and with 15 points on the man-advantage, he has been a significant element of the Rangers' power play, which ranks ninth in the league.
It is believed that Zuccarello will be sidelined for at least the first post-Olympics game, at home Thursday against Chicago, and likely the games in Philadelphia on March 1 and at home against the Bruins on March 2.
Dorsett, whose leg was broken while he blocked a shot against the Penguins on Jan. 3, skated with teammates for the first time in a non-contact jersey.
"Conditioning is a question," Vigneault said. "He should be close, if not ready, when we play Chicago." He would not say the same for Zuccarello.
Notes & quotes: Defenseman Dan Girardi, whose agent has been discussing a new contract with the Rangers that is believed to be close, practiced but was unavailable afterward to discuss the talks . . . Vigneault, a Quebec native, is rooting for Canada against the U.S. in Friday's Olympic semifinal but said he hopes the Rangers on the U.S. team do well. He said, "It should be evident that the big ice surface is not that great. All you see is people in the neutral zone trapping or people in the offensive zone trying to cycle. There's no forecheck, so there's no hitting in the offensive zone." . . . Brad Richards said a revival of the World Cup of Hockey "should get looked at . . . guys will have summers off to get ready and you'll get more of the best players. This year there were a lot of good players who didn't get to play in the Olympics."