The Rangers attempt to get back to their winning ways at MSG tonight. Aiding that endeavor will be the return of Filip Chytil, who is set to play for the first time since sustaining a hand injury on January 24 and then sidelined due to COVID protocols. Not in the lineup tonight, but a possibility for Thursday, is Kaapo Kakko, who came off the COVID-19 list today, but has to go through the protocols to return to practice and game action. Of course, the subplot may be the key story.
Jack Eichel, who is rumored to want out of Buffalo and is a target for the Blueshirts, will be at MSG tonight. The Garden faithful of 1800 strong - as seen in Larry Brooks' column today - may serenade Eichel. But rather than we want you, we need you, can we go with "I Like Eich" or how about, Eich, Eich baby, just for a throwback to early-90s.
wrote about this topic today. I promise I will make a whole blog with your Eichel proposals. To hearken you back about a decade, this is Rick Nash trade discussions 2.0, just maybe at an even higher scale, given Eichel's age, remaining term and dollars on his deal and fact he is a center. Settle in for this to dominate all conversations until a final conclusion is reached.
On Jack Eichel: I know it’s white-hot in Buffalo, but I would be shocked for the above reasons if the Sabres considered a trade now. First, it’s something they have to come to grips with. Second, there simply aren’t a ton of teams in position to do it for budget or cap reasons. Things change in the off-season: contracts coming off the cap; the 10 per cent summer cushion; etc. The Rangers are an obvious exception — they could do it at any time, if they wished — although some of the proposals I’ve seen out there are kinda crazy.
As Vince Mercogliano noted, with Chytil returning from a hand injury. Kevin Rooney, usually a center, will be on his left to take draws when needed. If Zib struggles again and Chytil is flying, could we see a swap of spots? Julien Gauthier, so good on Friday and okay Sunday, gets to ride shotgun with Chytil, at least until Kakko is back. Then, look for Kakko on the second line, Blackwell on the third and Gauthier or PDG on the fourth line. Jacob Trouba is progressing quicker than expected; maybe he returns in a week or so, while Anthony Bitetto may be nursing an injury, why he was scratched again.
First line → Alexis Lafrenière (LW) • Mika Zibanejad (C) • Pavel Buchnevich (RW)
Second line → Chris Kreider (LW) • Ryan Strome (C) • Colin Blackwell (RW)
Third line → Kevin Rooney (LW) • Filip Chytil (C) • Julien Gauthier (RW)
Fourth line → Brendan Lemieux (LW) • Brett Howden (C) • Phil Di Giuseppe (RW)
Top pair → Ryan Lindgren (L) • Adam Fox (R)
Second pair → K'Andre Miller (L) • Brendan Smith (R)
Third pair → Jack Johnson (L) • Libor Hájek (R)
Starter → Igor Shesterkin
Backup → Alexandar Georgiev
Healthy scratch: Artemi Panarin (F) and Johnny Brodzinski (F)
COVID-19 protocols: Kaapo Kakko (F)
Injured: Jacob Trouba (broken thumb)