After a relatively slow week of news for the New York Rangers things got very interesting on Wednesday with the reports of Marian Gaborik having a groin issue and Michael Del Zotto having the stomach flu that will cause both of them to be out Thursday against the Lightning. In response to the absence of Gaborik the Rangers called up the Norwegian Hobbit Mats Zuccarello from the Connecticut Whale and he along with Todd White and Matt Gilroy will be in the lineup tomorrow.
The Rangers calling up Zuccarello with Gaborik hurting was a no brainer. As well as Dale Weise showed himself on Saturday he is more of a bottom six forward and with Gaborik out the Rangers needed more of an offensive threat and creativity from the move so they went with Zuccarello. It is no secret that fans have been clamoring for this move for a little while and tomorrow night they will get their first glimpse of what he can do. Hopefully for the fans he will be able to transfer his stellar play of the last 6 weeks in the AHL to the NHL, but either way do not judge the player based on just one outing as this city can be prone to do. I expect that Zuke will be used in an offensive capacity on one of the top two lines, but as of now there is no definitive word on what players he will play with. I discussed how I believe to best use Zuccarello in his debut and who I would pair him with at even strength in the article questioning what the Gaborik injury means about Marian recently and going forward.
Obviously on the other side of the Zuccarello excitement comes the negative of Marian Gaborik once again being out of the lineup. Gaborik being out caused me to examine the different reactions in the afore mentioned piece titled, “Gaborik injured all along or made of glass.” I believe there is some validity to the thinking of both groups though in the end I am afraid the second has more rationale right now. The reason I say that is because of what coach Tortorella said in his meeting with the media today about Gaborik’s injury. Personally I am more intrigued by how he talked about it as the tone and body language are saying as much as what he said regarding Gaborik. Watch and let me know if you agree with the vibes I am feeling.
With Gaborik, Callahan and Prospal all out of the lineup tomorrow the burden of the offense rests at the feet of Brandon Dubinsky and let us hope with all those guys out that mental block Gaborik being in the lineup seems to put on him will disappear and the aggressive Dubinsky will return because the Rangers will need it. Going against a talented Lightning offense it will be interesting to see how much defensive work they ask Dubinsky to do tomorrow given how much he is going to be needed to score some goals. I believe Dubinsky is up to the task of carrying this team but as I said earlier this week the real question for Dubi is; does he?
Finally today there was the announcement that Rangers prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bouruqe made the final roster for Team USA and the 2011 World Junior Championships this Sunday. In my write-up I have a quote from Kreider about the leadership he is trying to provide to the team in the absence of Derek Stepan who captained last year’s club to the gold. Also there are links to the full roster, and Jess Rubenstein’s preview of the tournament over at The Prospect Park.
Speaking of Chris Kreider, NHL.com did a feature on him today which discussed his last twelve months in the good and bad parts of his play, but mainly how he has an impressive resume as a winner.