Rangers to scratch rookie 1st time this season against Panthers

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Will Cuylle will be a healthy scratch for the New York Rangers when they host the Florida Panthers on Saturday. It’s the first game the rookie forward will not play this season.

Rangers coach Peter Laviolette had said recently he planned to give a chance for each of New York’s 13 forwards to play down the stretch of the regular season, with an eye toward postseason lineup decisions and keeping players fresh for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin in less than four weeks.

Still, it was a surprise to see Cuylle remain on the ice with extra defenseman Brandon Scanlin after morning skate Saturday.

“We’ve got a dozen games left, I hope we remain healthy,” Laviolette said after the morning skate. “If we do remain healthy, I’m going to have to make those [lineup] decisions. I’d just rather see everybody ready to play in the playoffs.”

Laviolette added players “gotta be patient” with this strategy the next few weeks.

Related: 3 major reasons why Rangers are legit Stanley Cup favorites

Will Cuylle to be scratched 1st time this season when Rangers host Panthers

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Cuylle has been a staple on New York’s third line in what has been a solid first season in the NHL. The 22-year-old forward leads the Rangers and all NHL rookies with 227 hits. His 12 goals are tied for seventh among rookies even though his average ice time per game (11:05) is lowest among the top 17 rookie goal scorers in the League.

Just last week, Laviolette praised Cuylle for his solid defensive play this season and had him skate against the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders on a checking line with Barclay Goodrow. Jonny Brodzinski was on the other wing one game, Jimmy Vesey the other.

Cuylle had a massive game against the Islanders last Sunday. He not only excelled in a checking role and delivered a game-high eight hits but Cuylle also ripped a goal off the rush past Isles goalie Ilya Sorokin.

In his most recent game, Cuylle was credited with four hits, had two shots on goal and four shot attempts in a 5-2 road win in Boston against the first-overall Bruins.

Brodzinski will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch Thursday. Matt Rempe will remain in the lineup after playing only seven shifts and 5:11 in ice time against the Bruins.

That was Rempe’s first game in the past six. He missed four games after being suspended for elbowing New Jersey Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler, and then was scratched Tuesday in a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

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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