Lots to discuss on a gorgeous Monday morning, beginning with the lineup for tonight on Strong Island. This is a rough sketch for reasons that I’ll explain in a moment:
Some quick notes:
For the most part, the lineup for tomorrow night in Detroit will consist of players not playing tonight, most notably Jaromir Jagr, Scott Gomez, and Henrik Lundqvist (although a number of prospects, including Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, and Nigel Dawes, will be playing both). There are, however, some notable exceptions, including…
Stephen Valiquette is out with a cut on his hand sustained over the weekend. The severity is unclear, but Tom Renney conceded it will cost Valiquette tonight and tomorrow. Al Montoya will play the whole game tonight, then will back up Lundqvist tomorrow in Detroit.
Sean Avery was originally penciled into the lineup for tonight, but has, according to Renney, “a tweak to a body part.” It can’t be too bad since Avery took part in the morning skate, but Renney said he wants to be cautious with a little more than week before the start of the regular season.
It doesn’t look promising for Darius Kasparaitis’ comeback. As best I could tell, the only two players remaining in camp who are not playing either tonight or tomorrow are Kasparaitis and Francis Lessard. Renney hinted a few more cuts could be coming, so it’s a safe assumption to say those two won’t be around long. Either way, count on these next two games as the last two evaluation games, with Friday and Saturday serving as warm-ups for the real team.
I was originally surprised to see Brendan Shanahan in the lineup tonight as opposed to tomorrow in his old stomping ground in Detroit, but I’m told that it’s rare for a player to make a return like that in an exhibition game. I guess we’ll have to wait until the Finals…
The Nigel Dawes experiment is likely over on the top line with Jagr and Gomez. Part of this has to do with the fact that the group simply didn’t click on Saturday night. And word is Jagr has already made clear he needs more of a defensive presence on that line. Enter Martin Straka, who skated on the left wing with Jagr and Gomez today at practice.
Overlooked subplot for tonight: Ryan Hollweg is in the lineup for the Rangers. No word yet on whether Chris Simon is in for the Isles.
More from the Island later…