What looked at first like a one-game experiment of Jason Strudwick being paired with Marc Staal at defense may actually extend into tomorrow night. Paul Mara and Thomas Pock were both the extra pair today in practice, and Tom Renney said that’s the way he was leaning for his lineup against the Islanders.
It’s an odd situation for Mara: He is currently the Rangers’ highest paid defensemen at $3 million a season but is now potentially relegated to the press box for the second straight game. What makes it even stranger is the fact that he left a conversation with Renney yesterday feeling like he had returned to the coach’s good graces.
“I did yesterday,” the defenseman said. “I’m definitely disapppointed. I’m always disappointed when I don’t play, but it’s a coach’s decision. Tom said he was doing the best that he sees for this team. I’ll just have to live with it.”
Mara said in their conversation Renney made no implication that there was anything lacking in his game, something Renney repeated to us today as well. The coach mentioned he likes Strudwick’s toughness and the “calming influence” he has on Staal. Maybe there is something to that, but there obviously is something about Mara right now that makes him less than a must in the lineup.
And you wonder if the Rangers have room on their roster for a guy that makes that much money and doesn’t even play.
Some other thoughts:
“Hank, I scored like seven goals on you today.”
“It wasn’t that many,” the goalie replied.
“Maybe it was more,” the captain said.