By Matt Calamia (Twitter)
The Rangers may be without defenseman Anton Stralman for Game 4 Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, after he left Game 3 in the second period after being checked by Boston forward Milan Lucic.
Stralman did not play in the third period last night and did not take part in the team’s optional practice on Wednesday morning. No update on his condition was given and he did not speak to the media.
If he is unable to play, it is expected that either Matt Gilroy or Roman Hamrlik would take dress. Marc Staal, who has appeared in just one playoff game this season, took part in the practice but his status is unknown. He did not speak after the skate.
Forward Ryan McDonagh said losing Stralman, who has no points in 10 postseason games but is a plus-1, would be a blow.
“He’s been huge in this series,” McDonagh said after practice. “We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow yet. He’s working hard to give himself the best chance to play. We’ll see what happens. He’s such a mobile skater and that’s huge as a defenseman, to get a step up on a guy and create some space and find a passing lane to get it up to our forwards. He’s been exceptional in the playoffs.”
Rangers head coach John Tortorella has praised Stralman throughout the playoffs. On Wednesday, Tortorella called the possibility of not having Stralman in the lineup a “big blow.”
“He’s a guy — he puts himself in a situation [in Game 3] where he’s playing in an area to make a play and gets hurt,” he said. “He’s done that really through the playoffs here.”
The Rangers are already without arguably their top defenseman in Staal, and losing another top-four blueliner further hurts the team’s depth, according to Tortorella.
The potential injury does open the door to either Gilroy or Hamrlik to enter the lineup. Neither have played a game in the postseason this season, while Hamrlik hasn’t played since April 1 against the Winnipeg Jets. Defensemen John Moore and Steve Eminger, who have been playing together mostly on the third pair, could also see their ice time increase.
Tortorella said those players need to take the opportunity and “grab ahold of it. Let it happen. Crap, if you lose, you’re done. That’s what I’m hoping for from some of our guys.”
McDonagh said if Stralman, 26, is unable to play, it won’t change his approach to Game 4, which the Rangers must win to stay alive.
“I’m just going to go out whenever coach calls my name, no matter what situation,” he said. “I’m going to try and play the best that I can to help the team win.”
Share your thoughts in the potential Stralman injury and what his impact to the team has been in the comments below.