Defenseman Marc Staal took part in the Rangers optional morning skate at the Verizon Center prior to Game Five Friday, but, like Game Four, he will not be able to play tonight despite returning from a 29-game injury absence for Game Three on Monday.
Though he would not discuss specifics of this latest setback, Staal did explain why he's been unable to play after taking part in Game Three and giving the Blueshirts 17 minutes worth of solid play.
"I just wasn't able to go," Staal told a group of reporters after the morning skate. "I'm not going to go into any detail of what happened, but I just wasn't able to play. Not much (changed today), so I'll wake up tomorrow and go at it again."
Staal did solve some of the mystery surrounding his absence from the Rangers lineup in Game Four on Wednesday night, when fans and media alike were surprised not see him on the ice after he had played two nights before, took part in that day's morning skate, and his playing status seemed not in question.
"On the ice (during the morning skate) it didn't go particularly well," Staal explained without getting too specific about what transpired Wednesday. "Just as the day went on I couldn't see myself getting into a game situation."
The Rangers alternate captain looked frustrated by this latest setback from the frightening eye injury he suffered two months ago, and expressed as much to the reporters.
"It's tough," said a solemn Staal. "You're excited to get in that one (Game Three), then I have to sit and watch the next, so it's certainly not easy."
Staal said he had absolutely no idea on when or if he could return to game action during these playoffs.