….now have a seat in the stands.”
I’m not sure that’s exactly how the conversation went between Tom Renney and Sandis Ozolinsh, but it was certainly the essence. After a respectable showing by the seven-time All-Star in his first game of the season on Saturday, Renney has rewarded the player by scratching him (alongside Thomas Pock) for tonight’s matchup against Florida.
I say reward because in a strange way, that’s exactly what it is. Whereas other defensemen now appear to be on shakier footing than Ozolinsh (see: Marek Malik, Karel Rachunek, and Darius Kasparaitis), Renney is using tonight to give those players a better look. The result is that Malik will be paired with Aaron Ward, and Kasparaitis and Rachunek will be paired together at the Garden, while Ozolinsh, Pock, and Colton Orr had to settle for a rigorous workout in an empty MSG Training Center.
“I want to play. I’m not, that’s fine,” Ozolinsh said. “I get to skate more laps, which not as much fun. Playing is a lot more fun.”
Of course, there is another factor here, and that is that with Renney intending to use Ozolinsh out on the West Coast, the coach doesn’t necessarily see the point in subjecting the player to what could be a difficult environment tonight at the Garden.
“He’s going to play on the road for sure. He played well enough in Toronto obviously but what I’d like to do is really get him going on the road, get him three or four games under him and get him on a roll,” Renney said. “He feels good and was disappointed, and that’s a good sign.”
As for Pock, who has sat the last three games, the scenario isn’t that different. The wildcards these days appear to be players like Malik, Karel Rachunek, and Darius Kasparaitis. If that’s the case, those are the guys that the Rangers need to see more of in the days ahead. Pock, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, and so he can afford to sit this one out.
Goofy logic? I suppose we’ll see soon enough.
The forward lines will be the same as those used in Toronto. Michal Rozsival and Fedor Tyutin will comprise the other defensive pairing.