Injured Clowe tight-lipped about status for Game 2
Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby turns aside a wrap-around attempt by New York Rangers winger Rick Nash during Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinals in Washington, May 2, 2013. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
Ryane Clowe wasn’t making any bold predictions or guarantees.
The rugged left-winger wasn’t ruling anything out, either.
That could prove to be good news for the New York Rangers, who were missing four key players as they dropped the series opener to the Washington Capitals by a 3-1 count at Verizon Center Thursday.
After suffering an undisclosed injury Apr. 25 in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Clowe was back on the ice Friday afternoon for the first time, albeit in a non-contact jersey.
“I guess it’s just kind of a progression here now. I’m not going to rule out tomorrow,” said Clowe, who had three goals and eight points in 12 games with the Rangers after he was acquired from the San Jose Sharks. “It’s the time of the year, the hockey I look forward to the most. It was hard to watch last night.
Not surprisingly, Clowe was evasive when asked directly about whether he was testing out a lower-body injury.
There has also been a theory circulating that Clowe might be dealing with a concussion.
“Ah, I’m testing something in my body. I’m not going to say what it is,” said Clowe. “But, obviously you guys know I’ve been out with an injury. That was the first time I’ve skated today and it felt pretty good.”
Clowe plans to check in with the medical staff and left no doubt about what needs to happen for him to be ready to go.
“I’m not going to go out there and play if I can’t take a hit at this time of the year,” said Clowe. “If I’m playing, I can take a hit. That’s for sure.”
Rangers coach John Tortorella told reporters prior to the series that he wasn’t going to discuss his lineup or injured players. But he did allow a philosophical query about whether or not the intensity of the playoffs could negate any concerns about conditioning for a player that hasn’t been on the ice for several days.
“Yes,” was Tortorella’s succinct response, before expanding on a follow-up about why that is. “Because if we don’t win, we’re done. So I don’t give a damn about the conditioning. If I think a player is going to help us, he’s going to play.”
I’m not about to pretend to know Tortorella’s tells, but unless Clowe comes into his office and says he can’t go Saturday, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see him jump into this series in Game 2 and try to get by with a combination of will and adrenaline.
Clowe is a gamer, a guy who brings size and scoring ability, not to mention playoff experience, and should give the Rangers an emotional boost if he can play.
Speaking of Rangers dealing with injuries, centre Brian Boyle took part in his second consecutive skate and right-winger Derek Dorsett got rid of the non-contact jersey he’s been sporting of late.
Barring an unexpected turn of events, defenceman Marc Staal — out with an eye injury since Mar. 5 — isn’t likely to be back Saturday, though.
Regardless of who returns to the Rangers’ lineup Saturday afternoon, the top priority as they attempt to avoid falling behind 2-0 in this best-of-seven match-up is glaringly obvious.
“The biggest thing to learn is that we have to stay disciplined,” said Rangers winger Rick Nash, who had eight shots on goal and 16 attempts in his first playoff game since 2009. “I don’t know if (losing Game 1) changes much of what we’re trying to do. Every game, we’re trying to win, no matter what. But, it just makes it that much more of a must-win.”