Jonny Brodzinski likely in, injured forward skates for Rangers ahead of Game 6 vs. Panthers

NHL: New York Rangers at Chicago Blackhawks
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

With their season hanging in the balance and facing playoff elimination, the New York Rangers appear ready to make a tweak to their lineup for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

Jonny Brodzinski seems set to make his first appearance in this best-of-7 series that the Panthers lead 3-2 after consecutive wins, including 3-2 in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

Though the Rangers didn’t do line rushes at their morning skate, Brodzinski worked with the second power-play unit during drills. Since Matt Rempe stayed on late with the presumed scratches, it looks like Brodzinski would slide onto the fourth line with Barclay Goodrow and Will Cuylle.

“He works his tail off every game,” Ryan Lindgren told reporters. “We’re expecting him to have a good game tonight.”

Brodzinski played in Games 4 and 6 of their second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. The 30-year-old forward didn’t record a point and had one shot on goal, averaging 8:47 in ice time.

Rempe, played the past four games, though was on ice for only four shifts and 2:43 in the Game 5 loss. The popular rookie has one goal and 10 penalty minutes in 11 postseason games.

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Rangers expected to tweak lineup again for Game 6 against Panthers

NHL: Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Jimmy Vesey — Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Brodzinski adds speed, if not great size, to the fourth line. He gets in on the forecheck and is responsible defensively, and appears to be more trusted than Rempe, a 21-year-old rookie.

During the regular season, Brodzinski had an NHL career-high six goals and 19 points.

There were a couple surprises at the morning skate, neither of which will affect New York’s Game 6 lineup. Jimmy Vesey skated in a no-contact jersey. The 30-year-old forward will miss his fourth straight game Saturday and is out for the rest of this series with an upper-body injury sustained on a Ryan Lomberg hit in Game 2.

Vesey’s veteran presence has been missed in the bottom six and on the penalty kill. Coach Peter Laviolette has juggled the lineup and made personnel changes in each game that Vesey has been out.

Blake Wheeler did not take part in the morning skate, reportedly because the 37-year-old is “banged up.” Wheeler played Game 4, his first in more than three months following a lower-body injury, but was scratched Thursday.

Anton Blidh, one of the taxi squad players recalled from the Hartford Wolf Pack after they were eliminated in the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs, skated in Wheeler’s place as an extra forward.

After the skate, Lindgren said the Rangers are “excited” to meet the challenge of winning Game 6 on the road and heading back home for a decisive seventh game on Monday.

“It’s a huge game for us,” the defenseman said. “We’re going to do everything we can to bring this back to MSG for Game 7.”

Puck drops shortly after 8 p.m. ET.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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