MATT: Friday didn't end on a positive note, but earlier in the day, the Rangers certainly received some positive news as Marc Staal appears to be targeting a return to the lineup some time during this road trip if all things continue to go positively. Of course you want Staal back in the lineup for the Rangers, but for me, I just want him to get back for him, as he's gone through so much over the last three seasons and seemed to be back to normal prior to this latest injury. Having him back shores up the top-two pairs — if Anton Stralman's injury isn't serious — and gives the Rangers more depth on the blueline.
The other good news was Ryan Callahan skated after the team skate, and while he's further off than Staal appears to be, having the captain back in the lineup would be huge. The Rangers haven't been completely healthy for much time this year, but it appears they could be taking baby steps towards getting there.
JIM: No question out of everything that happened on Friday, seeing both Marc Staal and Ryan Callahan travel with the team and then both take to the ice in the morning was the best news of the day. Being around the team as much as I am it really is great to see Staal there laughing, smiling, just being one of the guys, knowing he is feeling good again following another scary concussion. The players feed off of him and his personality and leadership---Staal is right at the top of the list of most respected and popular players in that dressing room---so I am with you, it is just great to see him around the team again. And let's face it, the Rangers can use him out on the ice, too, whenever that day again arrives.
As for Callahan, it's a lift to see him fight his way back out on to the ice again, even if it was just a brief skate by himself while still wearing the knee brace. What a difficult year for the Rangers captain with all of the injury setbacks. You can only hope that the second half of the season sees him healthy and productive because, like Staal, the Rangers need Callahan to play a major role, on and off the ice, in order to be a winning team.