Rangers' Staal cleared for contact
|New York Rangers' Marc Staal drives Washington Capitals' Jason Chimera into the boards. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)
New York Rangers defenceman Marc Staal, out since the start of the season with a concussion, has been cleared for contact.
Although Staal took part fully in Monday's game-day workout, he was not in the lineup when the Rangers took on the New York Islanders. He may not play until after the Winter Classic Jan. 2 in Philadelphia because his conditioning isn't up to snuff yet.
"It's something I'm not going to step into if I'm not ready," Staal said of the NHL's annual outdoor game. "It's just not worth it to put yourself into a position like that if you're not ready, physically or mentally. It sucks that I probably might not get a crack at it. It is what it is."
Staal has missed 34 games this season after going into training camp with concussion symptons dating back to the 2010-11 season. He was hurt after being hit by his brother Eric during a game against the Carolina Hurricanes last February.
St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie will miss at least the next two games with a left wrist injury.
Oshie, the team leader in points, didn't play against the Dallas Stars Monday and has already been ruled out for Tuesday's game in Detroit.
"Osh has a sore wrist and we've opted to get him to as close as to 100% as we can," Hitchcock said. "We've opted to keep him out for these two games and put him in against Nashville (Friday). Rather than just keep monitoring it and getting it halfway decent. This way, we get it close to 100%."
The Blues called up forward Adam Cracknell from Peoria of the AHL to take Oshie's spot on the roster.
SMITH ON IR
Phoenix Coyotes starting goaltender Mike Smith was put on injured reserve Monday.
Smith went on IR, retroactive to Dec. 20, due to a groin issue. He was hurt last week against the Florida Panthers.
In 28 games with the Coyotes this season, Smith is 15-10-3 with a 2.52 goals-against average.
The Coyotes called up Curtis McElhinney from Portland of the AHL to serve as backup to Jason LaBarbera. McElhinney is 9-11-0 with a 2.95 GAA in 21 games with Portland.
Forward Patrick O'Sullivan was also called up from Portland and goalie Justin Pogge sent down.
MARCHAND FIRST STAR
Forward Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins is the NHL's first star of the week.
Marchand had four goals and two assists in two games last week, both wins by the Bruins. He had three goals and two assists in a 8-0 win over the Florida Panthers just before the Christmas break.
Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers was second star and Colorado Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere was third star. Gaborik scored four times in three games, including a pair of winners, while Giguere won all three starts.
The Chicago Blackhawks called up Brandon Pirri from Rockford of the AHL. The 20-year-old forward has two assists in two games with the 'Hawks ... Defenceman P.K. Subban and forward Lars Eller will likely be back in the Montreal Canadiens lineup Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators. Both sat out the Habs' previous game ... With Kevin Klein and Shea Weber nicked up, defenceman Ryan Ellis was called up from Milwaukee of the AHL by the Nashville Predators. Ellis, Nashville's first-round pick in 2009, has four goals and 13 assists in 26 games with Milwaukee.