The New York Rangers begin their 2011-12 campaign in about 14 hours in Stockholm, Sweden against the Los Angeles Kings. Getting off to that strong start that all teams desire at the beginning of the season may be more of a challenge for the Rangers now, as Marc Staal has been placed on injured reserve.
The shutdown defenseman is still dealing with post-concussion headaches, and while he can technically return to the lineup for the Oct. 15 game against the New York Islanders, that seems very unlikely to occur. General manager Glen Sather said he may be out a month; there have been rumors that he could be shut down for a month until his headaches subside.
The Blueshirts recalled 20-year-old defenseman Tim Erixon from the Connecticut Whale on Wednesday night, but Thursday they claimed veteran defenseman Jeff Woywitka off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens. Earlier in training camp, coach John Tortorella said the team sent Erixon back to the AHL because he needed to get acclimated to NHL rinks (after playing in the Swedish Elite League for three years), and thus could follow a similar path to the big club as Ryan McDonagh did last season. Now, with the status of the defense corp, he has been recalled. He looks to be paired with Steve Eminger, at least for the opener.
Woywitka obviously won't be up to speed to play in the first game of the season, but could play Saturday. He's 28 years old, 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds. He's not much of an offensive threat but could be in the lineup regularly if he plays well until Staal returns.
Sean Avery Clears Waivers
Other news from late Wednesday was that no team claimed Avery, meaning that he be on his way to AHL or possibly playing overseas. It's unclear which option he'll pursue.