During Monday's 2-1 shootout victory over the Islanders, the Rangers lost forward Marcel Hossa to a sprained left MCL leaving the game after the second period. The 25 year-old Slovakian is expected to miss three to four weeks. It's too bad for the Blueshirts because he was playing his best hockey of his career.
After struggling to score in the first half, the left wing flourished when put on the top line with Martin Straka and Jaromir Jagr, erupting for eight goals and 13 points in the past 15 contests. The eight goals are a team high since the All Star break. Up to that point, he had just two goals and five points for the season playing mostly 11-12 minutes a night on the third line and PK unit.
In 64 games,Hossa has 10 goals and eight assists for 18 points. Ironically, the 10 goals matched a career best established last season in the same amount of games in his first year on Broadway. The eight helpers and 18 points were new career highs. Aside from his recent solid play, he also was a shootout hero winning three for the club this season including a forehand deke which provided a huge comeback victory over St. Louis this past Saturday. If the team winds up making it, that could be the one that springboarded them in the right direction.
Now, the Blueshirts will have to replace one of its most effective forwards at a time when they're pushing for the playoffs in a wild race for the final spot.
Also banged up in Monday's win was recently acquired defenseman Paul Mara, who suffered a shoulder injury. It looks like he might be out for tomorrow's rematch at Nassau Coliseum.
Due to the injuries, the Rangers recalled forward Brandon Dubinsky and defenseman David Liffiton from Hartford on an emergency basis. In 58 games, the 20 year-old Dubinsky has 30 points (14-16-30) and 87 penalty minutes in his first pro season with the Wolf Pack. Meanwhile, 22 year-old Liffiton has a goal and nine assists along with 150 penalty minutes this season. Both will probably be asked to step in tomorrow night in a big rivalry game and contribute. With Straka still nursing a bad shoulder which prevents him from shooting, the Rangers need everyone to play big.
According to Coach Tom Renney, he did give consideration to resurgent prospect Hugh Jessiman. After struggling to establish himself in his second season at Hartford, the former 2003 first round pick went down to Charlotte to regain his scoring touch. It seems to have worked. Since being recalled, he's scored five goals and had 18 PIM in six games, also notching a shootout winner in sparking the Pack to some recent wins. The former Dartmouth product is beginning to grow more confident on the ice. But it was probably the right decision to leave him down. It would've been a huge rush job smacking of PR had they given Jessiman the call. Let him continue to prove himself in the 'A' first.