Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rangers Upcoming Roster/Line Decisions Up Front: Depth is a Good Thing

With the preseason injuries to Captain Chris Drury and Assistant Captain Vinny Prospal the New York Rangers were able to skate on making some tough decisions when it comes to their roster for this season.  We have a good sense of which 14 forwards they will carry for the season, as the assumption is when Drury comes back for Friday the Roster move will be to send Todd White to Hartford, but they could always send Tim Kennedy instead.  I dont see any value for White, but Kennedy could get some use in Hartford if he isn't going to do anything but sit here.  What is less clear is what impact the return of Chris Drury will have on the lineup that we have seen for the first two games both in terms of who will be scratched instead of dressed and deeper what the line combinations will look like.  The minor injury to Erik Christensen could once again buy the Rangers a little extra time in making those tough decisions, but let us examine what this roster could look like with a healthy Drury and Christensen.

For my thoughts on those potential roster moves and line combinations join me after the jump.

Update: Since writing this last night we have seen Chris Drury practice with the top line, so that could potentially make all I say below irrelevant if he plays well there, but I will post it as it was anyway and re-evaluate if necessary once play happens again and all the forwards are healthy.  Also it was Tim Kennedy who was sent to Hartford as I speculated was possible even though I still firmly believe there is no purpose for Todd White here.

NY Rangers Practice News: A Surprise Centering the Top Line

The fact that Erik Christensen was still out of practice with his leg injury suffered against the Islanders was not a surprise, but the surprise to many Ranger followers might have been who coach Tortorella chose to put in his place at practice this morning.  The assumption of many would likely have been that Christensen being injured would lead to rookie Derek Stepan moving up to play with Frolov and Gaborik, while Chris Drury on his way back from injury would slot in Stepan's place with Avery and Fedetenko.

Instead what we saw was the captain, Chris Drury, at least for the day given the assignment with the top line while Stepan remained with his line-mates from the prior two games.  This is surprising because at no point last year did Drury really play with Gaborik and it would seem unlikely he has the speed to keep up with him on a line, but this would fit the notion of coach Tortorella seeking to put Drury in more offensive situations.  For now I will assume that this move was just to get Drury re-acclimated to a full practice with the club and possibly some unsureness on what Christensen's availability for Friday might end up, but if this continues again tomorrow it will be a very interesting development in this young season.  This move would mess up a couple of the assumptions made in my analysis of the Ranger forward moves to come when I wrote it last night, but I will still post it later today in any event.

Andrew Gross over at his blog Rangers Rants also speculates that we might see Matt Gilroy in for Steve Eminger on Friday night.

Update: Following practice Drury said not to read much into his skating with Frolov and Gaborik, while Christensen says he hopes to skate tomorrow and play on Friday.  My guess is even if he does skate tomorrow EC sits on Friday.

In other news Drury picks the Yanks in 6 in the ALCS, which I will look at later today or tomorrow.

What to Do About the Blue Line

Yes it has been only two games of this season, so nothing is set in stone in terms of performance, but there are some reasons for concern based on the defensive coverage the Rangers have shown so far.  Thinking the best way to discuss this is to take on each person’s play individually and then seek to come up with pairings and or ideas going forward after. After the jump I will do just that, so come join me.