Kevin Klein was nearing a return to possibly play in game 5, so I expect to hear that he will be a full go versus the Islanders or Capitals in round two. Alain Vigneault admitted that “the bone was healing slower than expected” but was encouraged to see Klein take some slap shots which he was unable to do before.
As for Mats Zuccarello, rumors were floating around social media that he was taken to the hospital by ambulance during game 5. I have yet to see a single reporter or reputable news source confirm that.
Regardless, Mats took a serious shot to his head. It looked to me that he was caught flush on his helmet but Ron Duguay and the Analyst Team on Hockey Night Live thought it was closer to the ear and jaw area.
After the hit, Zuccarello skated slowly to the bench in obvious distress. Sportsnet cameras captured Zuccarello getting to the bench and losing his balance. You can see in the video that Derick Brassard and Rick Nash both appear concerned.
Soon, MSG cameras caught him talking with Rangers Medical Trainer, Jim Ramsey about the injury. From what I could see, Zuccarello looked uncomfortable but looked to regain awareness and was able to respond to Ramsey.
I’m no expert on this situation but I suffered a mild concussion just over a month ago. I, like many of you have been hit in the head before but this was different. I immediately had a splitting headache which is not something I usually deal with. The impact was to my nose and mouth so the doctor did not feel the need for a cat scan to check for any bleeding on the brain.
For several days, I had some blurry vision and a headache that took a few days to subside. I made a full recovery less than a week later. To be clear, there are no reports to suggest Mats Zuccarello has a concussion, nor am I saying he does. However, it was a clear blow to his head and he left with the medical trainer to get checked out.
The NHL is being sued by former players over the handling of concussions in the past, so this is an extremely sensitive topic. Due to these factors and general concern for the well being of players, I would not be surprised if the team’s action were extremely precautionary and we hear that Zuccarello is good to go for game 1 of round 2.
Scheduling for round 2 has yet to be announced. The Islanders and Capitals will play game 7 Monday and are fortunate because two series’ game 7’s are scheduled for Wednesday. That will allow them at least 2 days of rest as well. The earliest the Rangers can open up is likely Thursday, unless the NHL moves it up if there are no game 7’s on Wednesday.
Hopefully the 5 to 6 days off are exactly what the doctor ordered for both Klein and Zuccarello.