For those Rangers fans who long to get up-close-and-personal with their favorite team, I’m going to go ahead and say this might not be the week to do it. But if you insist, I’d at least suggest a surgical mask.
The flu that has raged through the lineup of late has claimed at least one more victim, with Michael Nylander now out tonight against the Devils. Throw in Matt Cullen, who is day-to-day with a knee sprain and also out, and this crucial division match will require a juggling act of the first order for Rangers coach Tom Renney.
With seven defense and just 11 forwards at his disposal, Renney said he’s going to try to use the odd configuration to his advantage, although that might just be a euphemism for “I’m screwed and there’s nothing I can do.” Of course, Renney could have called someone up from Hartford, but with the Wolf Pack already playing back-to-back games this weekend (with a third game tonight) that wasn’t a realistic option.
And so fresh off a 9-2 drubbing in Toronto, the forward lines will likely look something like this, although it’s probably going to change about 15 times over the course of the evening:
As for the defense, every available body will skate, including Sandis Ozolinsh, but even then, let’s not confuse “available” with 100 percent. Consider Aaron Ward, one of the first victims of this bug earlier in the week. As he was walking past a group of us in the hallway, the defenseman proclaimed that he “kissed the bowl again today,” which I don’t think I need to translate for you.
Hey, look on the bright side: what better way to lose that excess holiday weight?
Meanwhile, some other news:
OK, folks, plenty to discuss, and I’m sure you’ll do your fair share. More later….