Nigel Dawes walked into the Garden moments ago a step behind Michael Nylander and looking every bit like a player who expects to see the ice today in Game 6.
Tom Renney said his plan is to skate the same lineup that he had yesterday at practice, which featured Dawes on the left side with Sean Avery at center and Brendan Shanahan at right (which in turn would bump Martin Straka back to the first line and Marcel Hossa back to the fourth), but that he has yet to commit to it fully.
One of the coach’s concerns is disrupting the continuity of his lineup from the first part of the series. I also asked if he was worried about throwing Dawes into a playoff environment without being exposed to it already.
“That’s a consideration, but he’s a good player,” Renney said. “I think at this point in time anyoen can step in and do the job. The big thing is you’ve got some continuity going. But at the same time the reason you would consider it at all is he brings something others don’t and at what point in time do you say, ‘OK, we need that.’ Hence you’re in my world.”
It was noted to Renney that a move like this would be a departure from his usual stay-the-course mentality. The coach agreed, but also said one of the lessons from last year’s springtime debacle was not pulling the trigger on moves that tactically could have helped them win.
“That’s my obligation and my responsibility as a coach to take that chance,” he said.
It doesn’t sound like any other moves would be in store. If Renney goes with Dawes,Brad Isbister would likely be a scratch, while the defensive pairs should remain intact.
Otherwise, a fairly upbeat mood outside of the Rangers dressing room. Jaromir Jagr was smiling as he walked in the door.
“Why wouldn’t I smile?” he said. “Always.”
Of course, Jagr may have been unaware that his Czech Republic had fallen to arch-rival Slovakia yesterday in the World Championships.
“I’ll save that for after the game,” Renney said. “I don’t want to throw him off his game.”