Rangers announce Chris Kreider out versus Dallas, Alexis Lafreniere bumped to first line
Head coach Gerard Gallant said that forward Chris Kreider will be out for Thursday’s contest versus the Dallas Stars with an upper-body injury. The good news is that it isn’t considered to be a serious issue.
“Positive for me,” Gallant said of Kreider’s injury. “It’s not going to be longterm, it’s a short term thing.”
Kreider left Tuesday’s shootout win over the Minnesota Wild in the third period after a shoulder-to-shoulder hit by Marcus Foligno. The Rangers leading goal scorer, who is tied with Mika Zibanejad at 19, was seen favoring his left arm when he went to the locker room.
Chris Kreider out, Alexis Lafreniere bumped up
Kreider, 31, has registered 30 points in 42 matches this season. He was replaced by Alexis Lafreniere after being forced out of yesterday’s game.
Lafreniere has struggled in recent weeks and was scratched for a game that caused a lot of unnecessary trade speculation. To date, he has posted 18 points in 41 games with only one assist in his last six games.
Per multiple reports, Lafreniere remained with Mika Zibanejad and Kaapo Kakko at practice on Wednesday. Coach Gallant hinted that he would likely get the start on the line for the matchup against Dallas.
“I keep saying he’s 21 years old,” Gallant said. “He scored 19 goals last year. I was expecting similar numbers this year and it hasn’t quite been there. I’m not concerned about the kid. A lot of people are but I think he’s going to be a good player. He’s got the tools and talent. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that he doesn’t get the same opportunities as other kids get as a first overall pick. You can blame that on me or [David Quinn] but we’ve got star players ahead of him. We’re trying to win. That’s my goal.”
Alexis may also get the a chance to replace Kreider as the first power play unit’s net-front man. It’s an opportunity not lost on the youngster who addressed the media after practice as well.
“Mika is obviously one of the best centers in the league and Kaapo is getting better every game,” Lafreniere said. “We’ll see tomorrow.”
In other news, Julien Gauthier, who was injured on a hit in the first period was a full participant at practice. He is not expected to miss any time.
If the Rangers opt to call up a forward from the Wolf Pack, Gustav Rydahl is the most likely candidate. The 28 year-old forward has registered 4 goals and 9 points in 25 AHL games.
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