During the NHL All-Star SuperSkills there was a lull in the action during the breakaway challenge when players attempted interesting moves, but few if any ended up in the net. Maybe those guys should take some notes from Linus Klasen and his performance in the AHL Skills competition. The Nashville Predators prospect, represented his AHL club the Milwaukee Admirals, and scored a beautiful 360 goal that was the prettiest of any scored on hockey’s All-Star weekend.
Monday, January 31, 2011
As I relayed earlier, Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi were both back at practice as expected and both will play tomorrow against the Penguins.
Following the good news of Brandon Dubinsky, Erik Christensen and Vinny Prospal all taking part in a full practice there is even more positive news for the three of them in terms of return dates or at least timetables.
The only one certain at the moment is Vinny Prospal. Vinny is a definitely for Thursday and is apparently only being held until then so that he can get in two more full practices for conditioning purposes. It is still completely unclear what, if anything, can be expected of Prospal considering his age, the injury and the fact he has not played a game in 10 months. All of that said, I still expect Prospal to get a shot to play with Gaborik immediately, whether at center or on the wing.
Brandon Dubinsky was back on skates today for the first time since he was taken out of the lineup with a stress fracture in his leg. Dubinsky took part in hard conditioning skate, rest, and then full practice and was said to be feeling good. He would rule himself out for tomorrow’s game and that it would depend on how the leg responds in the morning. Jesse Spector tweeted John Tortorella having similar thoughts on Dubinsky in not ruling him out and that if he is pain free he will likely play.
In terms of Christensen and Fedotenko, Darren Dreger tweeted that EC could be back by Saturday and that Fedotenko could be ready within 10 days.
Amazing how all of these guys could be getting healthy basically all at once. This is great news for the team and the depth of the club, but also means that roster decisions will need to be made both in terms of lines and who plays/sits.
To remind everyone, here are the lines from earlier
If Dubinsky plays these lines will likely change with Avery being the obvious candidate to move down to the fourth line and Grachev sits out. There could be other shuffling going on with the top three lines depending on if coach Tortorella wants to put Callahan and Dubinsky back together or even reunite the full line of Dubinsky, Anisimov and Callahan.
The only other lineup spot that is not sure is on defense as coach Tortorella would not rule out playing Michael Del Zotto tomorrow despite the fact that Dan Girardi will play. This would mean someone else would sit, but there will be more on that tomorrow.
Over the past few months with all the injuries the New York Rangers have suffered there have been many negative injury stories. On that front today is the best injury news day this team has had in a long time.
In addition to Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi’s expected returns to practice Andrew Gross says that the team saw Brandon Dubinsky, Erik Christensen and Vinny Prospal take part in a full practice.
To say this is great news would be an understatement considering how well the team has played thus far with a depleted roster. It is likely that only Callahan and Girardi will play tomorrow, but having the other three participate in a full practice says they should be ready in reasonably short order. Getting Callahan and Girardi back in the lineup adds two critical pieces back to the roster.
Timetables on Prospal, Dubinsky, Christensen, Fedotenko
Timetables on Prospal, Dubinsky, Christensen, Fedotenko
New lines with the return of Ryan Callahan...
Maybe it is just me, but these lines confuse me. The best line over the past few weeks has been that of Wolski, Stepan and Zuccarello. Ryan Callahan is coming back and is of the same mold as Boyle and Prust and yet you split the best line of the past few weeks up to stick Callahan in that position while putting Zuccarello with two players who play a more grinding style. Lines never stay the same, so likely not a huge deal, just does not seem to mesh with what has worked.
Last Night Adam Rotter of SNYRangersblog tweeted that while he was on the New York Rangers website he noticed that Vinny Prospal had an “A” next to his name, while Marc Staal did not. Adam in his story this morning said he was unsure if the “A” was ever listed next to Staal on the website, but assumes that it likely was over the course of the last few months.
When Marc Staal was named as a temporary captain on October 18th in Vinny Prospal’s place the belief behind it was that Prospal would be back in shorter order than it has turned out to be the case. In the interim Marc Staal has turned into a leader of the young defensive core who has advanced his game beyond just a tremendous shutdown defender to be a legitimate Norris Trophy candidate this season.
Vinny Prospal is an excellent leader, an established veteran with lots of experience and brings tremendous enthusiasm to the club, but this team has been about the transformation from the ways of veterans to building around the young core. While “just a letter,” this is the kind of thing that makes a huge statement to the club about having that youth remain in the leadership positions they have taken on all year.
Either way should be an interesting scenario.
The New York Rangers have been one of the most pleasant surprises in the NHL to this point in the season. When the team starts again on Tuesday against Pittsburgh they will have 30 games left in the season to ensure they hold onto their playoff position. They start the “second half” with a five-point edge on the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes, who have two games in hand on New York, and a four-point lead over the Atlanta Thrashers, who have played the same number of games as the Rangers.
Since there are eight spots in the playoffs, I made a list of eight things that must happen for the Rangers to stay in the top eight. The list is divided into four things that must continue and four things that must improve for the team to hold onto a playoff spot, if not advance up the standings.
Room for Improvement:
This one is the winner of the captain obvious award considering the Rangers have lost 193 man-games to injury already. That number is going to rise with each passing game as Dubinsky, Christensen, Fedotenko, Prospal, Boogaard, Frolov will not be back at the start of play Tuesday, but Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi should be. This team has played admirably though all the injuries and found different players to continue to step and step up, but if they are going to hold on they need some better luck on the injury front.