Michael Sauer (38) of the New York Rangers skates with the puck as Evander Kane (9) of the Atlanta Thrashers defends during their game on April 7, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers defensive core continues to be hobbled by injuries in the early going, as the dependable Michael Sauer will not play in Saturday's game against the New York Islanders with a bum right shoulder. The 24-year-old has not been on the ice since the Rangers' last game against the Ducks on Oct. 8. Waiver claim Jeff Woywitka will make his Blueshirts debut as a result.
"I wouldn't say it's long-term, " Tortorella said as quoted by ESPN NY's Katie Strang. "He won't play tomorrow and we'll go from there."
The 28-year-old stay-at-home defenseman Woywitka will be paired with Steve Eminger, leaving he along with Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh as the only blueliners in the lineup that were in it last season. Michael Del Zotto will play alongside rookie Tim Erixon. Coach John Tortorella has to give the 'kids' a long look with the state of blueline. To say there are major questions surrounding this defense right now would be an understatement. There's really only one reliable combination here, with the rest loaded with unknowns and inexperience.
Winger Wojtek Wolski is likely to miss his second straight game, despite practicing for the first time in about a week Friday. Wolski is dealing with a strained groin sustained in the preseason, then re-injured in Game No. 1 this of the regular season. He says he's much better but still not 100 percent, and even though Tortorella didn't commit to him sitting, it wouldn't be too smart to start a guy not fully healthy. For a player looking to make a good impression and earn playing time, it can't be good for his prospects. It'd be doubly worse if Erik Christensen showed something against the Islanders, but that's always the issue with him.
"It's very frustrating," Wolski said as quoted by Blueshirts United's Jim Cerny. "I worked very hard this summer, had a great training camp, and felt very strong and positive about the year, but this is a hiccup. It's the beginning of the season and I want to get this to 100% and take care of it now so that I can have a good season. It just wouldn't be smart to push it too hard now and have to take more games off later."