Rangers Recall Erixon, Callahan, Lundqvist to Play

March 17, 2012

Some notes on this St. Patrick’s Day that will see the Rangers host the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden.

To combat a recent string of injuries — and to keep Jeff Woywitka out of the starting lineup — the Rangers recalled Tim Erixon from the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.

In 43 games with the Whale this season, Erixon has 3 goals and 33 points.

It’s been a few months since we last saw Erixon with the Rangers. Some people were really pushing for him to play with the big club all season, but the organization did the right thing with him to not rush him. We’ll see how much he’s improved tonight.

In addition to the call up, Ryan Callahan said he will play tonight against the Avalanche at Madison Square Garden. Artem Anisimov, who injured his shoulder Thursday, will not play.

According to Rangers Rants, Michael Del Zotto may also return tonight after missing the last few games with a hip injury.

After missing Thursday’s game with the flu, Henrik Lundqvist will start tonight.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia


Callahan, Del Zotto Out; Zuccarello Recalled

March 11, 2012

A bit of news a couple of hours before the Rangers take on the New York Islanders tonight at Madison Square Garden tonight for the final time this season.

Captain Ryan Callahan and defenseman Michael Del Zotto will both be out for the game tonight. Callahan returned Tuesday after missing three games with a foot injury, but has appeared to re-injure it. Del Zotto will miss another game with a bruise hip.

After a five-month hiatus, Mats Zuccarello was recalled from the AHL and is available to play tonight. Whether he does it another question.

Brandon Dubinsky appears to be back in the lineup after missing both games Thursday and Friday after sustaining a sinus/hand injury in a fight against the New Jersey Devils Tuesday in Newark.

It appears Jeff Woywitka will be the healthy scratch tonight.


Callahan Out, Biron, Scott In Against Hurricanes

March 1, 2012

According to several reports, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan will miss tonight’s matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes with what the team is calling a bruise foot. After missing about 20 games last season with a broken wrist and foot, tonight marks the first game Callahan has missed this season.

In his place will be newly acquired John Scott, playing in his first game with the Rangers after he was traded to New York by the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.

The 6-foot 8-inch enforcer could play either defense or offense — though he’s slated to play upfront tonight — and said he wants to make a “good first impression” on his new teammates.

Scott told Ranges Rants that he doesn’t feel like part of the team yet, but that should change after tonight’s game. “I know I’m a Ranger but it’s still weird to think about it,” Scott said. “I still like of the Rangers as them. Once the game starts, it will be us.”

Henrik Lundqvist will get the night off, meaning Martin Biron will get the start. Biron has lost his last two starts after coming out of the gate slow. He allowed four goals in the opening 10 minutes against the Blackhawks on Feb. 16, and two goals last Friday against the New York Islanders in the game’s opening nine minutes.

Both Steve Eminger and Jeff Woywitka remain healthy scratches.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia

Woywitka, Wolski Return from AHL Purgatory

February 15, 2012

Remember Jeff Woywitka and Wojtek Wolski? Well if you forgot about them, you’ll hear about them a little more before never hearing about them again — at least not in Ranger land.

The two returned today from their two-week “conditioning” stint with the Connecticut Whale (AHL), but don’t expect them to jump back into the lineup.

In six games, Woywitka tallied three assists and was a plus-2, while Wolski registered three goals and five points and was a minus-1.

Woywitka played decently with the Rangers after he was signed towards the end of training camp — or soon after the season started…who could remember at this point? — but has not dressed since Dec. 30 due to a combinations of a foot injury and Stu Bickel leapfrogging him on the depth chart.

Wolski, meanwhile, has had the season from hell. After hurting himself in training camp, he’s appeared in just nine games this season, and has been a healthy scratch for 14 contests when not on IR.

Don’t expect either to crack the lineup, with Wolski either getting dealt at the deadline [unlikely] or getting waived [likely]. Woywitka could see a similar fate in Connecticut, as he won’t command much of a return on the market.

Part of me feels for Wolski. He’s similar to Erik Christensen in that he has all the skill in the world but can never put it together. There’s a reason he’s on his fourth or fifth team and he’s only 24-years-old. I remember I had him penciled in to play alongside Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards in training camp. That hasn’t worked out in more ways than one.

I do think he’ll be off this team by playoff time, but he could have one last opportunity to make an impact, as he could play tomorrow night if Ruslan Fedotenko can’t go against Chicago.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia

Wolski, Woywitka Sent to AHL For Conditioning

February 2, 2012

The Rangers today announced forward Wojtek Wolski and defenseman Jeff Woywitka would be sent to the Connecticut Whale (AHL) for two-week conditioning stints, as neither have played much over the past months.

Wolski, 24, has had an awful season and cannot play himself back into the lineup. Hampered in training camp with groin injuries, the winger has appeared in just nine games this season, and has played just three games since returning from sports hernia surgery late last month. He’s been a healthy scratch the past six games.

Wolski makes $3.8 million this year, and the Rangers are desperately trying to move him, but his worth is pretty low right now. At best, the team could maybe get a mid-level prospect or draft pick for him, but at this point its better than nothing.

Woywitka is a curious case, as his replacement Stu Bickel has really cooled off since his quick start with the big club in December. At this point, I’d give the nod to Woywitka over Bickel, and it is obvious once Steve Eminger returns in the next two to three weeks from a shoulder injury, Bickel will be the victim of a numbers game.

Andrew Gross at Rangers Rants said the team is more inclined to keep Bickel around, probably because he would be claimed faster than Woywitka, whom the team claimed off the wire earlier in the season. Bickel would be the seventh defenseman, with Anton Stralman staying with the team.

Big fall from grace for me in regards to Wolski, whom I had penciled in on the first-line with Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards in training camp. I’ll admit, I sure was wrong.


Rangers forward Mike Rupp appears to have suffered a broken thumb as a result of a slash Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils from Eric Boulton. Boulton was fined $2,500 from the NHL.

Aaron Voros was released from his professional tryout with the Whale. He finished with three goals and 10 points in 23 games.

Ference Gets 3 Games for Hit on McDonagh

January 22, 2012

Ryan McDonagh left Saturday's game after getting boarded by Andrew Ference (Getty Images)

According to NHL.com, the NHL has suspended Andrew Ference for 3 games after he hit Ryan McDonagh from behind midway through the overtime period in yesterday’s 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins.

In Brendan Shanahan‘s explanation video for the suspension, he said Ference made contact with McDonagh’s skate before shoving him from behind into the boards.

“While we would agree with Ference’s assertion that there was no malicious intent,” Shanahan said in the video, “This nevertheless is a reckless shove from behind that causes a dangerous collision with the boards.” He said it was a “textbook” example of the boarding penalty explanation.

Shanahan put the blame on Ference for not making a better decision, and said the Rangers have said there doesn’t appear to be any injury to McDonagh.

McDonagh, who appeared to hit the end boards shoulder-first, but was holding his head after the collision, did fly home with the team from Boston last night. There was no update to his status after the game.

Jeff Woywitka has been cleared to play after being out for a month with a bone bruise in his foot, so expect him to be in Tuesday night against the Winnipeg Jets, while the Rangers give McDonagh the night off. It will be the last game before the All Star break.

Bad news all around, but I’m trying to stay optimistic because his head did not directly collide with the boards or glass after the hit. Of course that doesn’t mean a concussion cannot happen, but you have to believe it won’t be as severe as others we’ve seen when the head has been directly impacted. The All-Star game should definitely help him out, as the team will have a week off between games, and McDonagh was not selected to play.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia

Defensive Decisions Loom for New York Rangers

January 18, 2012

The Rangers have had their fair share of injuries through the first half of the season. Luckily, they are getting closer to being 100 percent. Unlucky for some players, especially on the blueline, there aren’t enough spots for everyone on the team.

The injured defensive trio of Michael Sauer (concussion), Steve Eminger (separated shoulder) and Jeff Woywitka (foot) have practiced with the team throughout the week, albeit in non-contact jerseys.

Although there is no timetable for any of the three — though reports have indicated the team expects Eminger and Sauer to begin contact drills after next week’s All Star break — it poses some interesting questions for the Rangers moving forward.

Once all three return from injury — and no other player succumbs to one — the Rangers will have nine defenseman for only six to seven spots on the roster, leaving several players looking for work in the AHL or elsewhere.

The top five are set in stone, with Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto and Sauer. You could even pencil Eminger in there as well, as head coach John Tortorella has warmed to the veteran, now in his second season in New York.

If my math serves me right, that’s four players for the final one or two spots on the team. Woywitka is in the most precarious spot, as he is a lefty on an already full side, as McDonagh, Del Zotto and Staal are all lefties. Good-bye, Jeff.

That leaves Stu Bickel and Anton Stralman fighting for the final spot as the team’s seventh defenseman, if they even choose to carry a spare. Although he has played well, you’d have to give the edge to Bickel, as he’d be more attractive to another team through waivers. According to Pat Leonard at the NY Daily News, Bickel’s contract pays him $600,000 in the NHL, while Stralman’s is $900,000.

Woywitka, who could already have left town by then, makes $650,000 while in the NHL.

Bickel is a young asset this organization has, and won’t risk losing him on the waiver wire and getting nothing in return. See Dale Weise. 

Tortorella has suggested possible conditioning stints for some of his defenseman to allow them to get some games in once players return to injury. We’ll see if anyone takes the bait.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia