Rangers forward missing from morning skate before Game 6.

Rangers forward missing from morning skate before Game 6.

The New York Rangers appear to be down a man ahead of an elimination game against the Florida Panthers.

Jonathan Larivee

The New York Rangers will have to face elimination without one of their more experienced veterans in the lineup later tonight, or so it would seem based on the team's morning skate on Saturday.

The Rangers hit the ice ahead of Game 6 against the Florida Panthers later tonight, a game in which the Rangers will have their backs against the wall and their playoff lives on the line, but there was one man notably absent. Nowhere to be seen was forward Blake Wheeler who managed to return to the lineup after being out since February for a relatively short appearance in Game 4.

Wheeler played just a little over 9 minutes in Game 4 in a gutsy effort after such a long layoff due to injury, but in spite of that Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette would go back to Matt Rempe in Game 5. There may have been speculation that Laviolette was less than satisfied with Wheeler's performance, but that would be incorrect with indications now that Wheeler is again on the sidelines due to injury.

The NHL's Dan Rosen reports Wheeler's absence is due to him being "a little banged up."

The Rangers all had a brief meeting when they hit the ice today, but again Wheeler was notably absent.

Wheeler has not as of yet been officially ruled out of Game 6, but his absence from the morning skate is certainly less than ideal.