When the Rangers face the Washington Capitals Sunday night at Madison Square Garden alternate captain Marc Staal will be missing from the lineup for the first time this season. Staal will sit out after taking a hard hit to the chin Saturday against the Devils and is having his condition monitored by the team's medical personnel.
"Marc is being treated for neck issues which are causing him to have some symptoms," explained Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault two hours before game time. "We are not sure yet if the symptoms are being caused by the neck issues from the hit last night. Obviously with his history we are taking every precaution, and we'll probably know more in the next day or two."
At the heart of the Rangers concern, of course, if the fact that Staal missed the first 36 games of the 2011-12 season because of a concussion, and anything resembling another concussion is a major reason to worry. Staal will continue to be evaluated, though Vigneault was not sure if the defenseman will be at The Garden tonight or not to meet with doctors and trainers.
Michael Del Zotto, a healthy scratch in Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Devils will take Staal's spot in the lineup against the Caps.
In addition Vigneault said that Benoit Pouliot---who was also scratched Saturday---will return to action on Sunday, taking the place of Dominic Moore who will be a healthy scratch. The coach said that he thought Moore's play "had slipped the past few games" thus setting the stage for this lineup change.
Derek Dorsett will miss his third straight game---and fifth in the last seven---due to a sore wrist. Vigneault emphasized that Dorsett's injury is not a major one---calling it a "bruise" as per MRI results last Friday---and the rugged forward could soon be back in the Rangers lineup.
Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal again, one night after stopping 20 of 24 shots in the loss to the Devils. He will be opposed by rookie Philipp Grubauer who will make his first start of the season in goal for Washington, and who will be appearing in only his fourth National Hockey League game. A fourth round pick by the Caps out of Germany in the 2010 NHL Draft, Grubauer has appeared in one game this season in relief of Braden Holtby, and is on the roster due to the fact that Michal Neuvirth is currently injured.