Injured Blake Wheeler unlikely to return in playoffs for Rangers

The chances of the Rangers having Blake Wheeler in the playoffs sound low.

Asked for the first time in a long time about Wheeler, who suffered a season-ending leg injury Feb. 15, head coach Peter Laviolette said the 37-year-old forward has not resumed skating yet.

“He’s progressing, but slowly,” Laviolette said before the Rangers lost 4-2 to the Islanders at UBS Arena on Tuesday night. “I see him. He’s still on that long road. The team sees him once in a while. When you’re in a situation like that, your hours don’t exactly line up.

Rangers winger Blake Wheeler suffered a season-ending leg injury on Feb. 15.
Rangers winger Blake Wheeler suffered a season-ending leg injury on Feb. 15. Jason Szenes for the New York Post

“I saw him just before we came here [to Long Island]. Got to chat with him a little bit. It was good, good to see him. We miss him.”

Wheeler missed his 25th straight game Tuesday, which marked just under two months since the right wing fell awkwardly on his right leg in a game against the Canadiens.

It was a scary scene and turned out to be just as bad as it looked.

The Rangers put Wheeler on long-term injured reserve the next day.

Wheeler ultimately finished his first — and possibly only — regular season with the Rangers with nine goals and 12 assists in 54 games.

Wheeler was the second Ranger to suffer a season-ending injury after Filip Chytil went down 10 games into the season with a suspected concussion. Despite holding out hopes of a return and managing to skate in a practice setting for a bit, Chytil had a setback in late January and was officially ruled out for the remainder of the season.

There hasn’t been an update on Chytil since, but it’s safe to assume the Czech center is in a similar situation as Wheeler.

Matt Rempe was a healthy scratch Tuesday against the Isles for the fifth time in the past seven games.

As a result, Jack Roslovic drew back into the lineup after serving as a healthy scratch for the first time as a Ranger on Monday.

He returned to his usual post on the right wing of Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad.

Erik Gustafsson also replaced Zac Jones on the Rangers’ bottom pairing with Braden Schneider.

Igor Shesterkin earned the starting nod Tuesday, making 25 saves in his 53rd start of the season.

The Rangers are scheduled to be off Wednesday before they face the Flyers at the Garden on Thursday.


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