The Rangers return to action Saturday after five days off. On the injury front, a mixture of good and bad news, though the end result is no lineup changes from the last game before their non-NHL mandated five-day break. The next five games will provide a good feel as to where this team really is and where areas to be filled in.
#NYR practice lines:
Kreider - Zib - Wheeler
Panarin - Trocheck - Laf
Cuylle - Bonino - Kakko
Vesey - Goodrow - Pitlick
Miller - Trouba
Lindgren - Gustafsson
Jones - Schneider
The stretch includes games in New Jersey, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and at the Garden against Boston in the eight-day week beginning tomorrow. New Jersey looks like they will have Jack Hughes, who returned to practice today, in their lineup. Nico Hischier and Timo Meier are probably sidelined. Four games on the road and four against upper-tier competition. If we wanted a measuring stick for this squad, we sure will get it now.
On the injury front, first the good news. Ryan Lindgren,
who left Sunday's game against Columbus following an elbow to the head by Sean Kurali, practiced fully and should be in the lineup tomorrow. Igor Shesterkin
, sidelined with soreness, practiced, though Jonathan Quick was the first goalie off the ice today, so he may get the call. Unsure if it's riding the hot hand, though with five days off, not sure that exists, or giving Igor another day or two to be safe.
Now the bad news, Filip Chytil
, sidelined since his Nov. 2 collision with Jesper Fast, sounds no closer to getting on the ice. Concerns about the player due to the cumulative effect of concussions - this potentially being his fourth - are more than valid and primary. beyond the capacity to play, his ability to function normally starts to be top of the mind. On the ice, if he is sidelined LT, the Rangers can put his $4.4 cap hit on LTIR and use those savings towards another center or wing. Nick Bonino is the current 3C but Barclay Goodrow could move up with few other options in the system. New York is trying to maximize cap space for the deadline, but until they have clarity on Chytil, don't expect any major moves in the near-term.
One possibility that seemed to be ruled out earlier in the week was Patrick Kane
. Emily Kaplan in her ESPN column discussed this, noting why the Rangers were not a likely landing spot despite Kane being interested. This being said, to put dominoes in place, if Chytil is out, and if the Rangers want a top-six RW to move Wheeler down, and if Kane would take a one-year deal, then maybe all these aspects come together for a reunion, though it's highly unlikely.
"I believe Kane wanted to run it back with the New York Rangers -- especially since his post-trade deadline play was so frustrating for him, hampered by his hip. But it sounds like GM Chris Drury told him the team wouldn't be able to make it work with the cap"