Banged-up Rangers lineup in flux against Penguins

NHL: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Hours before the New York Rangers’ matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, coach Peter Laviolette was unsure which 20 players would be in their lineup.

Without naming names, Laviolette said that the Rangers were banged up physically following a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. It would appear the question marks are at the forward position since Adam Edstrom was recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Friday.

Edstrom has two goals in 11 games with the Rangers this season. He has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in 28 games with Hartford.

In addition, Laviolette said he didn’t expect defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to play against his former team. So, if Ruhwedel is not drawing into the lineup, that’d mean the Rangers will go with the same six defensemen they’ve used the past four games since Jacob Trouba was sidelined with a lower-body injury.

Ruhwedel has not played since the Rangers acquired him from the Penguins last week ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Zac Jones replaced Trouba in the lineup and Ruhwedel, who helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2017, waits his turn.

UPDATE: No changes to Rangers lineup. All “banged-up” players will play. The one tweak is that Jimmy Vesey will skate on the third line with Alex Wennberg and Kaapo Kakko, and Will Cuylle slides back to the fourth line with Barclay Goodrow and Jonny Bordzinski.

Banged-up Rangers have lineup questions against Penguins

NHL: New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s worth questioning whether Mika Zibanejad is questionable Saturday, though Laviolette never mentioned him by name. Zibanejad was forced from the loss in Tampa for roughly nine minutes after taking a puck to the face. The Rangers top center returned wearing a full face shield and finished out the game.

“Pretty important player,” Chris Kreider said about Zibanejad after the Lightning game. “Should be a perennial Selke [Trophy] candidate every single year. Does everything for us. So, yeah, if he’s not going over the wall every shift, we miss him.”

Artemi Panarin was slashed on the hand Thursday and Alex Wennberg was somewhat wobbly after blocking a shot against the Lightning.

The Rangers are also without Matt Rempe, who’s serving the third of a four-game suspension for elbowing New Jersey Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler.

Jonathan Quick will start in goal for New York. Igor Shesterkin is expected to start the second of the back-to-back set at home against the New York Islanders on Sunday.

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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