The Rangers are already at a stage when every player is subject to a closer look, but given the recent changes, here’s the three I’m most interested in monitoring tonight against the Maple Leafs.
Jaromir Jagr: As Tom Renney said the other night, when No. 68 is back to full strength, the Rangers as a whole soon should follow. With Michael Nylander kicked back to the third line and Petr Prucha stepping in at left wing, does the team’s premier forward display more signs of life?
Sandis Ozolinsh: Hardly a surprise. As I already said, given the debacle that was the end of last season, the defenseman is on shaky footing with Rangers fans to begin with. He needs to get off to an encouraging start tonight — whatever that means — to be afforded some slack once he returns to the Garden on Wednesday.
Nigel Dawes: Buried on the fourth line when he has played, the rookie now gets a shot alongside a crafty playmaker in Nylander, and a grinding, dig-it-out right wing in Jason Ward. Does he make the most of the opportunity? If he doesn’t, he might be back in Hartford before long.
I want your takes on all three. And it better be on my desk by 8 a.m.
Or not. That’s fine, too.