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Rangers staff optimistic Staal will recover

NEW YORK (AP) - Doctors are optimistic that New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal will recover fully after being struck in the eye by a deflected puck.

Staal was injured Tuesday night in the third period of New York's 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. The 26-year-old defenseman will be sidelined indefinitely, but was already showing improvement on Wednesday, the Rangers said in a statement.

Staal's specific injury hasn't been disclosed.

``Marc Staal was examined today in New York by Dr. Mark Fromer, ophthalmologist, and Dr. Mendel Markowitz, maxillofacial surgeon,'' the statement said. ``The injury has improved significantly and both doctors are optimistic that Marc will make a full recovery.''

Staal went down 5:45 into the third period when a shot by Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen from the blue line clipped the stick of Flyers forward Jake Voracek and caromed up into Staal's eye, causing a cut. Staal, who wasn't wearing a visor, writhed on the ice and kicked his legs. He held his face while he was down and when he skated off the ice, assisted by a Rangers trainer, toward the dressing room.

Staal has two goals and nine assists this season while playing in all 21 games. He had one goal and seven assists in the 13 games before Tuesday, and logged a game-high 27 minutes, 14 seconds of ice time in New York's shootout win over Buffalo on Sunday.

He was on the ice for more than 18 minutes on Tuesday before he was injured.

The Rangers added veteran depth to their defense corps on Wednesday when Roman Hamrlik was claimed off waivers from the Washington Capitals.

The 38-year-old Hamrlik, the active leader with 1,383 NHL games played, was waived by the Capitals on Tuesday after playing in only four games this season. He is in the final season of a two-year, $7 million contract.

Hamrlik played in Washington's first three games this season before being scratched for seven straight games. He returned to the lineup Feb. 7 at Pittsburgh, then sat out nine more games before being waived.

After being chosen No. 1 overall in the 1992 NHL draft, Hamrlik has 155 goals and 483 assists with Tampa Bay, Edmonton, the New York Islanders, Calgary, Montreal and Washington. He has one assist this season.

The Rangers return to action Thursday night at the New York Islanders and then will host the Ottawa Senators on Friday before heading out on a four-game road trip.

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