Rangers Roundup: Hank out, Nash’s status, Skjei promotion, WWE Messier, and more

The Rangers come out of the Christmas break to face the tough to play against Ottawa Senators. Henrik Lundqvist did not skate this AM due to the flu, so Raanta may start. Also Brady Skjei should return for Adam Clendening.

Rangers Restart

After allowing 14 goals in the last two games, this Rangers team got a much needed mental and physical break. That being said, it will mean nothing if they lose again tonight. Ranger after Ranger spoke of the team’s poor play.

Mats Zuccarello said they were “not good enough”. Derek Stepan decried of their play, “we’re not even close”. Finally, the soft spoken captain, Ryan McDonagh admitted that they “need to respond.”

So the Rangers will need to put forth a full 60 minute effort in order to get the ship righted. With 3 of their top 9 forwards out (2 in their top 6), they can’t rely on outscoring their opponents. Less fancy, more grit and a yeoman like effort is what we need to see.

Nash’s Status

The Rangers will only have a morning skate so it is unlikely Nash will play tonight. Alain Vigneault stated as much before the break but that was before the humiliating loss to Minnesota. If Nash were to surprise us tonight, he most likely will have talked his way in but don’t count it.

Mika Zibanejad (leg) had the boot removed and is expected back in 2-3 weeks. Pavel Buchnevich (back) is also close to returning, and hopefully it will be after the New Year. When all three return it will help the offense, but it won’t change their lack of physical play or the lapses on defense.

Something will need to change.

Moving On Up?

Brady Skjei was scratched against Pittsburgh, but may not only find himself in the lineup tonight…he may play top pair minutes. Larry Brooks stated he deserves the chance in his latest column.

“The Rangers should find out whether Skjei, a lefty, can handle the switch to his off-side that he first tried during the second half of last year with AHL Hartford before playing a pair on the right with McDonagh in the playoffs against the Penguins and three on the right with Marc Staal the middle of last month.”

The issue would be the complete breakup of AV’s LH/RH defense pairings. He already has two lefty’s on one pairing with Marc Staal and Nick Holden. Promoting Skjei would have 2 lefties on the top pair and 2 righties on the bottom even if Clendening remains.

But is a pairing of Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein the wisest decision? We may find out tonight.

Heir Apparent?

Igor Shestyorkin.

Remember that name because the 6’1″, 185lb netminder with cat-like reflexes may just be the man that takes over for the The King one day. He’s currently playing in the KHL and has Gordie Clark (head of scouting) and Benoit Allaire (goalie coach) beyond impressed.

Clark said he is “special” and plays net with an attitude. “You shoot it, I’ll stop it”, is how Clark described his approach. Allaire simply marvels at his technique and ability. And it’s hard to argue with them as he sports a 22-1 record with elite level numbers (.950 sv%, 1.33 GAA, 7 SO).

Brooks reported that Shestyorkin who is 20 years old signed a 3 year deal and it is unknown if there is a buyout option. Even so, Lundqvist should still have a few good year left in him before the Russian goaltending phenom is ready to take over.

You Can’t See Mess

Two guys who know how to win championships! #JohnCena #MarkMessier #HustleLoyaltyRespect #WWEMSG (photo: Dave Saffran / MSG Photos) pic.twitter.com/LLldm9muhU

— MSG (@TheGarden) December 27, 2016

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

Mentioned in this article:

More About: