Rangers’ Sauer has concussion
Rangers coach John Tortorella confirmed what was expected.
Defenseman Mike Sauer has been diagnosed with a concussion after taking a substantial hit from Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf in Monday’s 4-2 loss and will miss tonight’s home game against the Lightning.
“I don’t know what grade,” Tortorella said of the severity after yesterday’s practice. “He’s day-to-day.”
With the Rangers playing four games in the next six days, Sauer almost certainly will miss additional games. See: Marc Staal. With their top defenseman having been out all season with post-concussion issues, the Rangers likely will avoid having another rising young defenseman return too soon.
Last week, Staal said he should have waited longer to come back last season, returning for seven games after sustaining the injury on Feb. 22. He has been skating and hopes to return this season, but there are no guarantees he will play. And the hits keep coming.
“It’s tough,” said Michael Del Zotto, who will be paired with Steve Eminger in Sauer’s absence. “We’re missing Marc and he’s such a key component to this team because he plays in all situations. No one’s going to replace him. Now with Sauer out too, it’s an opportunity for guys to step up.”
It is unclear how long Sauer will be sidelined, but the Rangers defense has excelled all season, even without Staal. Just because the names and faces change, the Rangers don’t expect the results to.
“I think we’re going to be fine,” defenseman Dan Girardi said. “All six of us now are willing to step up our game if Mike’s not able to play. We’ve been doing it all year with [Staal] out. Different guys playing different spots.”
Sliding in for Sauer will be Anton Stralman, who made his lone appearance of the season against Florida on Nov. 23. The first-year Ranger described his excitement in playing his first home game at the Garden and hopes to channel that energy better than he did in his last outing.
“I felt I was chasing the pace a little bit, hopefully these couple weeks helped me improve my game,” Stralman said. “I definitely didn’t feel very comfortable that game. That was a tough game, but every first game is a tough one, especially when you want to come in and show what you got.”
* Forward Mike Rupp had his first full practice with the team since undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on Nov. 9, skating in a non-contact jersey. He said he has not had any setbacks, but he has no timetable for his return. Rupp initially was scheduled to miss 4-6 weeks.