Rangers face another injury to key defenseman

NHL: Florida Panthers at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Already missing two of their regular defensemen because of injury, the New York Rangers were down a third at practice Monday.

Erik Gustafsson did not practice because of an upper-body-injury. He is day to day with the injury.

The 32-year-old logged 19:44 in ice time during New York’s 4-3 shootout win against the Florida Panthers on Saturday. He finished the game and had one shift in overtime, though there was a second-period stretch when Gustafsson played just two shifts in a 14-minute span.

Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren each remain out of the lineup for the Rangers and won’t play when they host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Lindgren, who’s been sidelined three games with a lower-body injury, took a positive step when he skated in a no-contact jersey at practice Monday.

“He looks really strong out there, practiced hard. Great to have him out there,” coach Peter Laviolette said after practice.

Trouba has missed nine games with a lower-body injury. Laviolette said Saturday the Rangers captain is skating on his own and that it’s “a real positive thing.” Trouba was expected to be out 2-3 weeks and Laviolette said “it’s looking like three.”

Related: Rangers Recall: Zac Jones and depth on defense

Rangers may be without Erik Gustafsson against Flyers on Tuesday

NHL: Stadium Series-New York Rangers at New York Islanders
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

With Gustafsson missing practice, Laviolette was forced to juggle his defense pairings yet again.

Zac Jones moved up to pair with Adam Fox. And rookie Brandon Scanlin was inserted on to a pairing with Chad Ruhwedel. K’Andre Miller and Braden Schneider remained defense partners.

If Scanlin plays Tuesday, it will be his NHL debut. Jones has played all nine games that Trouba has missed, though it was Gustafsson who moved up to play with Fox after Lindgren was sidelined.

“The guys that have come into the lineup have played really well,” Laviolette said. “And we’ve done it against some high-end, high-caliber opponents, which is also impressive.”

Gustafsson has had a nice season for the Rangers. He’s played in 70 of 71 games and is second among Rangers defensemen with 30 points (six goals, 24 assists), behind Fox (61 points). He’s eighth on the Rangers in takeaways (24), ninth in blocked shots (62) and 10th in average ice-time per game (17:15).

Earlier in the season he moved up the lineup when Fox missed 10 games with an injury. He took on extra even-strength and power-play minutes. The Rangers were 7-2-1 during that stretch.

They again have persevered late in the season with injuries to key defensemen. The Blueshirts are 7-2-0 without Trouba in this most recent stretch.

Scanlin was recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League after Lindgren was injured on March 17. The 24-year-old has 16 points in 57 games with Hartford and leads Wolf Pack defensemen with eight goals.

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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