That at least was the impression I got from my conversation with Tom Renney Sunday afternoon. Fresh off a win in Phoenix, having shifted to L.A., the Rangers coach said he wasn’t sure of his lineup for Monday night against the struggling Kings, but it was his “inclination” to use the same personnel as he did against the Coyotes.
On the surface, one could understand. In what the coach said was his team’s most complete effort of the young season, there wasn’t anyone who necessarily played themselves OUT of the lineup against the ‘Yotes Saturday night. Yes, the cynic might argue, some may have managed that long before. But for now, the Rangers might not want to tinker with a recipe that is working.
Of course, this would mean that both Nigel Dawes and Thomas Pock could sit again, and Renney acknowledged he’s concerned about getting both ice time.
When I asked the coach what, if anything, is holding Pock back these days, Renney said he loved the player’s skating and his shot, and he loved the fact that the 24-year-old defenseman has a “cantankerous” side when it comes to using the body. But he also said the defenseman needs to make quicker decisions with the puck, and that Pock also needs to consider more options than the one straight in front of him.
When I asked the coach if there’s something to be said for two young players injecting some energy into the lineup, he said that was definitely a consideration. But maybe—and this is only me guessing—the need isn’t quite as pressing as it was prior to the Phoenix game.
You’re only as good as your last game, after all. And for one day at least, the Rangers aren’t that bad.
Meanwhile, there are other factors to consider here, and one is whatever the Rangers might be cooking up behind closed doors. At first, it seemed unlikely the team would play the entire road trip with all eight defenseman. Now, it seems like they will.
“Whoever is in the lineup will be evaluated against that eight-man dynamic,” Renney said.
In other words, auditions are ongoing.
Don’t call us. We’ll call you.