7:11PM: Marc Staal is going to be a healthy scratch tonight for the Rangers against Tampa Bay.
This is the first time in Staal’s career that he is a healthy scratch. (Larry Brooks)
Ryan Lindgren is in Staal’s place and will be paired with his former Team USA teammate Adam Fox. (Stephenson)
Adam Rotter: Staal has been struggling this season, looked slow and has been ineffective nearly every time the puck is around him. Still, the fact that Marc Staal is being scratched by the Rangers is a big deal. I don’t expect this to be long-term, especially if Brady Skjei continues to struggle, but once he’s been scratched once, it can certainly happen again. Staal, with his stature and tenure with the Rangers, being scratched also has to be a message to everyone on the Rangers that spots in the lineup need to be earned every day and that past performance will only take you so far.
It’s ironic that it’s tonight, on the night of Kevin Shattenkirk’s return and Dan Girardi’s pre-game honor. Staal is the last of that era of Ranger defensemen, though you could argue for Brady Skjei’s inclusion, and this will open up even more questions and discussion about his future. He has one-year left on his contract after this season but with all the dead money the Rangers already have on the cap for next season, buying him out is no sure thing.