I wrote a few days ago that Erik Staal would likely get booed every time he touches the puck tonight. Now, I'm totally sure of it.
In logic-defying statements today, Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice and captain Staal denied that Eric check on his brother Marc last Feb. 22 caused the concussion that has kept the Rangers defenseman off the ice this season.
"It was a clean hit, and his brother came back and played,” Maurice said before tonight’s game. “To me, he's not the reason there's a concussion."
And Eric Staal, who said he had been speaking with his brother all summer and in the last couple days while the team has been in Manhattan, said he did not feel guilty and offered this:"There were a lot of steps that happened after that hit that probably put him in the position that he's in now. I don't think it's just that hit. It's not like I hit him and he's been done since that point. He played and came back. Now he's healing and on the right track to getting back."
During the summer, Marc Staal began experiencing headaches during workouts; both he and coach John Tortorella have said a concussion from the hit is causing the headaches.
Staal, who has been seeing concussion specialists, undergone acupuncture and received a cortisone shot, missed two games following the check, which rocked him backwards and his head bounced off the ice. He injured his knee earlier in that game, but played all but three other games the remainder of the season and five playoff games. There is no timetable for his return.
The Rangers were not expected to avenge the hit. Said Brandon Dubinsky: “I have two brothers myself. I don’t think there was any malicious intent. I don’t, though, think it was the cleanest hit.”
The Rangers, 4-2-2 on the road, play the next four games away (Islanders up first on Tuesday, Canadiens on Saturday) and do not return to the Garden until Nov. 26 for a matinee against the Flyers….It was Henrik Lundqvist’s 12th start of the season….D Anton Stralman, who signed a one-year contract last week and practiced just once, was a healthy scratch…D Derek Joslin and forward Patrick Dwyer were expected to be scratched for the Hurricanes…The Garden was to pay tribute to the late Joe Frazier with a video montage on the center-ice scoreboard, ending with the words: “We will never forget that left hook.”…On Veterans Day last season, the Rangers beat the Sabres 3-2, as Artem Anisimov scored in overtime and Martin Biron made 29 saves.