Rangers Forward ‘Being Evaluated’ for ‘Massive Hit’: ‘We’ll See’

The New York Rangers lost forward Jimmy Vesey after Florida Panthers' Ryan Lomberg hit

Getty The New York Rangers lost forward Jimmy Vesey after Florida Panthers' Ryan Lomberg hit

The New York Rangers won a game on Friday, May 24, but they might have lost something more important as forward Jimmy Vesey had to leave the match early and didn’t return.

Rangers left winger Vesey suffered an upper-body injury in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals matchup against the Florida Panthers and didn’t return for the third period and overtime. New York defeated Florida 2-1 in OT.

Panters’ Ryan Lomberg delivered a “massive hit” on Vesey, as heard on ESPN’s broadcast, connecting with the Rangers forward’s left shoulder midway through the second period.

Vesey left the ice at the 12:15 mark of the second stanza. The Rangers later ruled out Vesey for the remainder of the game with an undisclosed “upper-body” injury.

Asked about Vesey’s status after the game, Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette didn’t have any encouraging news to share, leaving the door open for all scenarios as the series moves to Florida for Games 3 and 4.

“He’s upper-body right now, he’s being evaluated,” Laviolette told reporters in his postgame press conference on May 24.  “So, we’ll see.”

Rangers & Panthers Ramp Physicality Up in Game 2

Judging by one of the final hits taking place during the final seconds of Game 1, it was fair to expect physicality and contact to go up a notch in Game 2.

On Wednesday’s series opener, Panthers’ Niko Mikkola delivered a late hit on Rangers’ Filip Chytil with just five seconds left to play, and the game decided with the Panthers up 3-0.

On Friday’s Game 2, hostilities started fewer than five minutes into the affair. After the Rangers scored the first goal of the game and took an early lead, a little scrum popped up involving all 10 skaters on theice.

Rangers’ Alexis Lafreniere hit Panthers’ Carter Verhaeghe in front of Florida’s net in the play leading up to Vincent Trocheck‘s 1-0 goal.

That was the main cause of the wrestling matchups that started following the horn announcing the goal. Verhaeghe got things going by pushing Lafreniere in retaliation for the earlier hit.

Matthew Tkachuk dragged Trocheck to the ice but officials controlled the situation rather nicely, preventing it from escalating. After calm was restored, the refs sent Verhaeghe, Lafreniere, and Tkachuk to the penalty box with two-minute minor roughing penalties.

Matt Rempe Returns, Dmitry Kulikov Makes His Presence Felt

After getting support from Rangers legends such as Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, and Henrik Lundqvist, Matt Rempe returned to New York’s lineup in Game 2 replacing former No. 2 pick Kaapo Kakko.

Rempe was slotted in the fourth line and finished Game 2 with 10:06 minutes of playing time completing 9 hits, blocking 1 shot, and winning the lone faceoff he was part of.

The Rangers rookie also found himself on the receiving end of a Dmitry Kulikov hit in the third period that sent the freshman flying into the boards.

Earlier in Game 2, Kulikov blasted Rangers center Alex Wennberg with a mammoth hit as New York tried to create a breakout play off its defensive zone.

Kulikov’s shoulder hit Wennberg in the head. The Rangers player didn’t have enough time to watch the Panthers player coming his way in full force and react to it by dodging the charge. Wennberg couldn’t do anything to avoid the hit.

Officials reviewed the penalty originally called on Kulikov with the possibility of turning into a five-minute major offense. Ultimately, the refs left it as a minor interference call.

Unlike Vesey, Wennberg was healthy enough to keep playing and didn’t miss a shift following the hit.

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