New York Rangers positivity: Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich all in tow 1
Oct 17, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash (61) celebrates scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks with New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Though up and downs have poured on the New York Rangers, Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich are all back in tow.

  • New York Rangers (28-13-1, 57 pts)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (18-13-8, 42 pts)
  • NHL, Dec. 13, 7 p.m. ET, MSG Network
  • Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

By now, the New York Rangers should have found their identity.

That task can be hard when you’re plagued with injuries, which has been the story of the team since November. It didn’t matter who the player was, if they were hurting, the whole team was hurting as well.

And right when things seem to be on the up-and-up, another thing falls and brings the team back a few steps.

It was revealed Thursday that Marc Staal was placed in the NHL’s concussion protocol, as per Alain Vigneault via Larry Brooks’ Twitter.

Some may see this as a positive, though. You would never like to see a player hurt but the Rangers’ defense has looked fairly good without Staal in the lineup.

It is a shame that injuries has destroyed him. Staal had serious potential but ran into injuries that are now seeming to mount on him. It all started with a hit dished out by his brother in a game against the Hurricanes in the 2010-11 season. Staal would miss the first half of the 2011-12 season with post-concussion syndrome.

During the 2012-13 year, he suffered an eye injury due to a puck to the eye. Since then, he simply has not been the same player and it is sad to think about what could have been.

Moving on, Rick Nash skated today and Mika Zibanejad was at practice in a regular jersey, both are big positives for the club.

Getting these two players back as soon as humanly possible will come as a hockey blessing for the team’s offense.

If Nash and Zibanejad both come back blazing, there is a good chance that the Rangers will look like a very competitive team and have the offensive firepower to boot.

Another player that the Rangers announced would be back was a fan favorite who was brought over from Russia to really impact this team.

This player is none other than No. 89, Pavel Buchnevich.

Right when he started to really heat up and start playing very well, he got hurt and has been out for a while now. Thankfully, after playing in the AHL for a little, he is back.

Whether he will play Friday against Toronto is still unknown, but is expected. In fact, both Buchnevich and Nash are expected to play, so there are two players who will look to make a monster impact right from the start.

Zibanejad’s timetable is still in question but it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see him playing soon as well. Take a look at this video from the Rangers practice yesterday:

Seeing the three of them on the ice is a tremendous sign. 

The Rangers will need all the help they can get against a very young, and very good, Maple Leafs team. Headed by Auston Matthews and other core young players, the team has shown they are almost ready to be a serious playoff contender.

Aside from the potential results to Marc Staal being in the NHL concussion protocol, everything else seems to be looking up for the team.

The most important thing they need to focus on is winning games and staying healthy. The Blueshirts are a serious contender only with all of the parts of the car running.

If parts aren’t working, they have to be fixed. If you have watched the NHL at all, you know that nothing is guaranteed.

Standings can change at the drop of a hat, so an up and down battle is expected.

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