Rangers’ Staal could return before end of season

New York Rangers' Dan Girardi (5) checks on teammate Marc Staal (18) who was hit by a puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 5.

New York Rangers defenceman Marc Staal could be back on the ice within seven to 10 days and return to the lineup before the end of the regular season, according to Hockey Central Insider Nick Kypreos.

Staal has not played since taking a Kimmo Timonen slapshot to the face in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers March 5. The shot was deflected by Jakub Voracek and the puck made contact just above Staal’s right eye.

The 26-year-old flailed around on the ice in severe pain and was assisted to the dressing room.

According to the Rangers, Staal’s eye is healing well and their hope is that he can play a few regular season games before the playoffs — if the Rangers can hold on and make the playoffs. As of Monday evening, the Rangers were in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 42 points.

The Rangers defenceman was not wearing a visor when the injury occurred and is expected to use one when he returns to action.

His brothers Eric Staal and Jordan Staal, who both play for the Carolina Hurricanes, both recently began wearing visors after seeing their brother’s injury.

In 21 games prior to the injury, the Thunder Bay, Ont., native had 11 points, 14 penalty minutes and a plus-4 rating.

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