What doesn’t kill the Rangers makes them stronger: A look at their injuries this season

Kevin Klein  (Photo: Elsa-Getty Images)

Kevin Klein (Photo: Elsa-Getty Images)

The Rangers have actually been really lucky this season in the injury department. I know what you’re thinking reading that sentence – “Are you nuts!!!???” Actually, the Rangers rank 29th in manpower lost due to injury with 88 games. In contrast, the Blue Jackets lead the NHL with 427.

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The L.A. Kings rank 28th with 101 so it’s possible with the Kevin Klein injury and Henrik Lundqvist still out due to a vascular sprain, they could surpass them.

Still, this has been a pretty resilient Rangers team that has survived lengthy injuries to some key players. Let’s take a look:

Of course the Rangers have had some games lost due to the mumps that hit Tanner Glass, Lee Stempniak and most importantly Derick Brassard. Fortunately for the Rangers Brassard only missed 2 games.

Mats Zuccarello was also dinged up for 2 games, Rick Nash missed 1 because of a stiff neck and Kevin Klein sat out for a game to heal up some bumps and bruises.

So the Blueshirts, even though have had their fair share of injuries have been rather lucky. However, it’s been enough adversity that it has made them stronger as a team going forward.

Hunwick will be ready to help (Getty)

Hunwick will be ready to help (Getty)

Think about it for a moment. If Boyle didn’t get hurt, would the Rangers have learned what they had in Matt Hunwick? His play early in the season allowed them to be comfortable enough to move John Moore to acquire Keith Yandle. That acquisition looms even larger in the face of Klein’s injury (upper body / arm – 3 to 4 weeks) that will keep him out possibly for the remainder of the regular season.

Or what about the injury to Derek Stepan? Yes, that injury ultimately benefited the Rangers immensely. How? Kevin Hayes! The Rangers in desperate need of a center plugged Hayes in the middle and were forced to keep him there. The end result is a well developed rookie playing big minutes and contributing in March.

Hayes’ 13 goals and 32 points in 63 games has solidified a 3rd line and added a scoring balance that has the Rangers top 5 in the NHL in goals for. In Hayes’ first 44 games he scored just 19 points. Since January, the kid has scored 14 points in 19 games. That is a direct result of allowing him to develop since the opening of the season.

Talbot (Getty)

Talbot (Getty)

Lastly, Lundqvist’s injury has given Cam Talbot an opportunity to shine. Since Lundqvist’s injury, Talbot has gone 12-3-2 but was a little shaky to start his run as the King’s heir. He posted 6 sub .900 SV% performances in his first 8 appearances. In his last 9 starts he is 7-1-1 with a 1.54 GAA and a .948% – simply stellar.

This is another blessing in disguise for many reasons. Obviously, his play has vaulted the Rangers into first in the Metro and tied for first in the entire NHL. More importantly, this summer his stock will be high and many GM’s have taken notice of his run as the #1. With Talbot being an unrestricted free agent next summer, Sather could move him at the draft this summer for a lofty return. Even a possible mid to late 1st round pick in this year’s draft since the Blueshirts don’t have one until 2017.

So, even though the Rangers have had to deal with some key injuries this season it hasn’t killed them. As the old saying goes, it has only made them stronger.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at YardBarker, and MSN. Features have been linked on Sportsnet, NBC, TFP, NY POST, NEWSDAY and more.