Rangers center Kevin Hayes will be sidelined two to three weeks with a lower-body injury — apparently a left leg or knee issue — suffered in Sunday’s matinee in Detroit. The team made the announcement Monday after an MRI.
Hayes, who has 35 points this season, played 8:41 Sunday but did not return for the third period against the Red Wings. Hayes was involved in a knee-on-knee collision with a Red Wings player late in the second period. In the visitors’ locker room after the 1-0 overtime win, Hayes was limping and wearing a metal brace on his left leg.
Before Monday night’s game, coach Alain Vigneault, who termed it a ‘’lower-body” injury, said it happened on a specific play and that Hayes was not a victim of the slushy ice. Judging by the upcoming schedule, Hayes will miss at least five games. “Every time we get excited about having a full lineup, something happens,” Vigneault said. ‘We’ve been going through it since Day One.”
Staal, Raanta improving
Two other sidelined Rangers are progressing. Defenseman Marc Staal (concussion) will not play Wednesday night against Philadelphia in the last game before the All-Star break, but Vigneault said that if the team had practiced Monday, he would have joined them. Staal skated with spares yesterday and shot at a goalie for the first time since he was shut down on Jan. 4. He said he is feeling better and “going in the right direction.”
Goaltender Antti Raanta also was on the ice in full gear for the first time since he left after the first period in Montreal on Jan. 14 with a lower-body injury. His timetable will run through the All-Star break. “I’m feeling good, but there’s still some work to do and some treatments to go through,” he told the team’s website. Forward Jesper Fast (upper body) has not skated since he was injured on Jan. 17 and was estimated to be sidelined seven to 10 days.