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Gerard Gallant shuffles forward lines and D pairs, Kravtsov active

November 30, 2022, 3:46 AM ET [137 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers head to Ottawa tomorrow looking to break a three-game losing streak. Coach Gerard Gallant broke out the blender - again - today in practice, shuffling the forwards and defensemen. Jaroslav Halak was the first goalie off ice in practice today, which is a pretty good indication he will be between the pipes against the Senators to pursue his first win.

Practice lines:. The top two lines remain the same trios that finished the game Monday night. With Vincent Trocheck getting a maintenance day, the bottom-six lines were Laf-Carpenter-Kravtsov and Blais-Goodrow-Gauthier. Ryan Carpenter was a placeholder for Trocheck, but the key takeaway is that Vitali Kravtsov looks like he will see first game action since November 10, a span of eight games.

At least Trocheck has a pair of possible scoring wingers on either side of him. Kravtsov has to take advantage of this opportunity to show that he belongs in the lineup nightly. While Jimmy Vesey has played well enough to remain on the top line, he is not a scorer. The time may be here to switch Alexis Lafreniere back to playing with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider to see if they can rebuild the chemistry that showed in pockets. In addition, if Sammy Blais doesn't show more, he could be a healthy scratch for Carpenter or possibly a Hartford call up like Gustav Rydahl with Barclay Goodrow sliding back to wing.

D-Pairings - the change is not that shocking. With the blue line defense leaving a lot to be desired, Gallant and Gord Murphy made switches on two pairs. Braden Schneider, who has been much better the past few weeks, slots up to play with K'Andre Miller, who continues to struggle. The team's captain and everyone's new whipping boy - rightly so to an extent - Jacob Trouba shifts down to what is in essence the third line with Zac Jones. Please remember there is no guarantee these revised pairs remain intact, as Gallant classified the shifts as a way to get depth in the pairs, but something needs to be tried. Adam Fox received a maintenance day, so Libor Hajek was his stand-in today with Ryan Lindgren.

Trouba is playing through an injury. What that is remains unknown, but he has not practiced much, if not all, which is what happened today. Trouba is a warrior and wants to be out there. But if he is hurting the team and/or needs time to heal, then he and especially Gallant need to be smart and give him a rest. Saying the C is weighing him down or causing his struggles is too easy of a narrative and an easy excuse.

Trouba is not fleet of foot. He relies on positioning and physical play to succeed. The injury does rob him of some speed and may impact his positioning, contributing to his subpar play. He is not the worst signing in the league. The contract is not yet an albatross around the team's neck. But if he doesn't find a way to snap out of it and at least play as he did last year during the regular season, then the comments on his contract and play will gain even greater validity.

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