If the plan for the Rangers was to treat these final two games as dress rehearsals for the regular season, they’ll have to do so tonight without their leading man.
That means no Jaromir Jagr tonight against the Islanders thanks to a hip flexor.
Tom Renney downplayed it, and Jagr himself came on the ice late during the morning skate and skated lightly for more than 20 minutes (the injury apparently was caused by Jagr pushing himself too hard in extra skating sessions). The plan is for the captain to still play in tomorrow night’s preseason finale in Philly, but that, too, could change.
It appears the Rangers are being cautious with keeping Jagr out of the lineup, and it’s certainly better to have him out tonight as opposed to Thursday in the season opener. But given the Rangers sluggish start to the preseason, and the need to develop some chemistry both at even strength and on the power play, it’s at least a small setback.
Some other notes:
What this does for the forward lines remains in question since Renney said he’s still mulling things over. The team is also being cautious with Sean Avery, who will miss his third straight game with a groin injury. The other forward scratch is Artem Anisimov, who is expected to stay with the team through the preseason before likely being sent to Hartfoird.
Paul Mara and Thomas Pock are the scratches at defense. Tonight’s pairings: Marc Staal with Jason Strudwick; Fedor Tyutin with Dan Girardi; and Marek Malik with Michal Rozsival. Henrik Lundqvist i expected to play the whole game in net. Unless there’s another fight, of course. Speaking of which….
Word from the Island is that neither Chris Simon and Rick DiPietro will play tonight. You would assume this would mean fewer fireworks than Monday. But I doubt the game will be incident-free.
Finally, strange sight of the day: Avery wielding an electric razor and shaving Marcel Hossa’s head in the training room. “You don’t want to know,” Renney said.
More in a bit…