Clowe, Staal status unclear

NEW YORK -- Both injured defensemen Marc Staal (eye) and Ryane Clowe (believed to be a concussion) skated Monday morning during the Rangers' optional morning skate at Madison Square Garden.

It remains unclear whether either -- or both -- players will return to action in Game 3 against the Capitals. Rangers coach John Tortorella said he will not address injury or lineup questions during the post-season.

Staal did not speak with the media after the skate, making it difficult to gauge his availability for Monday, but there is an interesting point to consider. Assuming he is close, which he is believed to be, wouldn't it make the most sense for him to get back in at home?

Given the home team's ability to make the last change, the Rangers' would be better able to manage matchups. Plus the team could ease him back into play in comfortable surroundings. Staal's knowledge of the ice, the dimensions, the lighting and weird little nuances of MSG would diminish the adjustments necessary to accommodate any lingering limitations of his right eye.

Staal, who has been skating with the team for weeks, has not played since being struck in the eye with a puck during a game against the Flyers March 5.

Clowe did speak to the media Monday morning, but said he was not yet sure if he will be available Monday.

"I feel pretty good out there," Clowe said. "Obviously you guys [the media] want to know if I'm going to play tonight, [but] I'm still not sure about that."

It's clear that the 30-year-old veteran, who has 68 games of playoff experience as a former long-time San Jose Shark, is itching to get back. But the Rangers are likely exercising caution with what is believed to be a head injury that has shelved him since the team's playoff-clinching win in Carolina in the penultimate game of the season.

"Like anyone else at this time of year, no one's ever 100 percent, but when I come back I'll definitely I'll feel capable of everything I can bring and my style of play -- obviously, a physical style -- so that's what I'm looking at here.