Marc Staal, who has missed the last ten games with a concussion, will be back in the lineup for the New York Rangers tomorrow night in Florida. Staal last played 12/7 against the New Jersey Devils, when he was injured after taking a Reid Boucher shoulder to the jaw.
With Staal back in, the question now becomes, who comes out?
It almost certainly won't be rookie Conor Allen, who made his debut last night, and played more in the third period than both Michael Del Zotto and Justin Falk. The youngster took 10 shifts in the 3rd against Tampa, twice as many has Del Zotto's 5, and 8 more than Falk, who only saw the ice twice. Alain Vigneault was complimentary of Allen after the game, and remained so today, saying, per Pat Leonard of the Daily News:
“I liked what I saw (Sunday) night. I think the fact that he wasn’t jittery with the puck when people were around him and the puck wasn’t bouncing. He wasn’t afraid to take the hit and sometimes make those small, little bump plays, skill plays that need to be made, so you can spend less time in your end.”
Unless Vigneault has a change of heart, that doesn't sound like the words of a man who intends to sit Allen, especially after Del Zotto struggled again last night and Falk hardly played.
With Anton Stralman's (left wrist/hand injury) return seemingly imminent, whether it's Del Zotto or Falk who is the low man on the totem pole may be a moot point. Stralman could be back tomorrow night as well, saying about his injury:
"We'll see about (Tuesday), hopefully it'll feel even better then. Today was definitely a step forward."
Not much was expected out of Falk this year, who was acquired merely for depth at the back end of the blue line, but the same cannot be said of Michael Del Zotto, a former first round pick. The 23-year-old has been the subject of constant trade speculation, and if he wants to stay in New York, he's quickly running out of chances to convince management he's worth keeping around.
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