It’s been so long since I subbed at the training center for my boy Sam that I forgot how cold the rink was. Thankfully, I’ve returned quickly to the relative warmth of my apartment. (Hopefully, my thoughts on today’s optional skate will be all the more coherent for it…)
With just two points (either won by the Rangers or lost by the Caps) between the club and a third straight playoff berth, 12 guys took the ice today. Most were young guys: Callahan, Prucha, Dawes, Avery, Strudwick, Valiquette, Dubinsky, Sjostrom, Hollweg, Malik and Straka (obviously not a young guy).
If you count, that’s 11, but not because of my faulty math. The 12th was Blair Betts, who skated for 45 minutes and said his toe felt fine. He’s currently on oral antibiotics, and wraps the toe in gauze after applying another antibiotic.
“The toe feels great. I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s the issue anymore,” Betts said. “I just have to get back in shape and get comfortable out there. I should be able to play. Iâ€™m just not sure when thatâ€™s going to be.”
Betts will skate harder tomorrow. The possibility remains that he’ll play Thursday and/or Friday, and both he and Tom Renney want the return to happen before the playoffs.
“At least Sunday, if not Thursday-Friday,” Betts said. “I definitely want to get in the game, just for the mental aspect of it. It should be three pretty intense games. … If I can help it, I donâ€™t want my first game back to be a playoff game”
Betts said the problem shouldn’t rear it’s ugly head again (and in the case of his infection, “ugly” is an appropriate word), but he’ll have to fix it permanently in the offseason.The other injury news is what you’d expect. Renney said Brendan Shanahan was day-to-day after missing the second half of Monday’s game.
“I think heâ€™ll be fine,” Renney said. “Heâ€™s just getting a little bit of work on his muscles.”
At 6-foot-1, 150, my man Sam could use help on his muscles, too. Then again, couldn’t we all?
I’ll have a story for tomorrow’s paper on the Rangers’ quest for home ice. They are clearly keeping an eye on the standings, hoping the playoff opener is at MSG.
“We’ve been really good at home,” Henrik Lundqvist said, “so we should definitely try to get that.”
Renney said he’ll try to balance who should play and who should rest if the opportunity presents itself the rest of the week. He was non-committal on exactly what approach he’ll take.