I realize it sounds pretty silly to be using the word “urgency” when talking about the third game of an 82-game season. It’s October. It’s 75 degrees and sunny outside. Should the Rangers somehow lay an egg this evening, most Rangers fans are still going to get out of bed in the morning.
But suppose you are the Flyers, winless so far in 2006-07, and at least contemplating the possibility of dropping two straight to your dreaded rivals to the north. Now maybe there is urgency. And now maybe you’re already thinking about ways to shake things up.
That at least is what Tom Renney is thinking heading into tonight’s rematch at the Garden. Sensing that the Flyers might skate their resident enforcer Riley Cote as a way to throw the home team out of sync, the Rangers coach is preparing to counter with Colton Orr on the fourth line. The emphasis here is on the word “preparing”. Renney said Orr will skate in warm-ups, and should Flyers’ coach Ken Hitchcock pencil in Cote into his lineup, then Renney would likely replace Jason Ward with Orr. If Cote is not a go, then Orr will likely sit again.
I suppose you can ask what is gained by skating a player like Orr in today’s up-tempo NHL, but the other question to ask is what do you risk losing if you don’t? You obviously don’t want a player like Cote taking a run at the likes of Jagr and Nylander, nor do you want to have someone like Ryan Hollweg forced to fight when he’s actually a valuable commodity on the ice.
Maybe it does sound fairly backward. The reality right now, though, is there’s no way around it.
In other news:
—Aaron Ward’s groin has recovered enough for the defenseman to play tonight, meaning Darius Kasparaitis will again be a scratch. Renney said Kasparaitis was going to play if Ward if didn’t, but now there isn’t the same urgency (there’s that word again). When I was leaving the rink, Kaspar was being put through a series of on-ice tests by Rangers assistant Mike Pelino. No word yet on how he did, but that might be enough to clear him on Thursday.
—At least based on how the team was practicing this morning, it looks like Marcel Hossa and Nigel Dawes have swapped places, meaning Hossa will skate on the third line with Blair Betts and Adam Hall, while Dawes will play with Hollweg and either Orr or Ward. It just shows that you get rewarded when you score a game-winning goal.
OK, I’m off to mow my lawn. I’ll have more from the Garden…