Scratch those visions of Scott Gomez threading passes through the crease to Petr Prucha; or Jason Strudwick standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Paul Mara at the blue line.
After Tom Renney had tinkered with both possibilities yesterday in practice, the coach is going the other way: Both Prucha and Strudwick will be scratches, meaning Christian Backman stays in at defense, and Brendan Shanahan most likely stays on the second line with Scott Gomez and Sean Avery.
In Prucha’s place, Ryan Hollweg looks like he’ll be making his series debut. Go figure.
So was this deception on Renney’s part? Or was there another intent? The coach wouldn’t say today, but it’s worth noting the last time he toyed with moving Shanahan down to the fourth line — in the regular season finale against Jersey — the veteran came back the next game and scored a goal.
Something to think about.
Meanwhile, some other updates:
<li>It does look, however, that Paul Mara will see some time at the point on the power play. Asked if he’s the answer to the man-advantage unit’s problems, the defenseman laughed. “No one guy’s the answer,” Mara said.
<li>Warm up the coffee. This curious note is courtesy of stat maven Kenny Albert: Today marks the anniversary of the two longest Rangers game since 1940. April 29, 1971 was the day of Pete Stemkowski’s triple-overtime game-winner against the Blackhawks, and April 29, 2007 was the day of Michal Rozsival’s double OT game-winner last year against the Sabres. That game also came in Game 3 with the Rangers down 2-0.
<li>Tom Renney was asked about Michel Therrien speaking to officials about the Rangers, specifically Brendan Shanahan, crashing the net against Marc-Andre Fleury. The coach deadpanned, “Really? I didn’t know you could do that.”
Later, it was noted that Therrien’s complaints seem out of place seeing how the Rangers are not going to the net nearly as hard as they did against the Devils. Renney just nodded and smiled.
“Let him think what he wants,” Renney said. “I know where we have to be better as a team. There’s no doubt about that…As we’ve said many times, that’s the end point when it comes to playing this game. It’s not anywhere else but the net.”
<li>Today was an optional skate, with Gomez, Drury, Lundqvist, Straka, and Rozsival taking the morning off. Sean Avery and Shanahan usually skip optionals but were there today, and Jagr skated on his own after most of his teammates left the ice.
In Lundqvist’s place, the recently-acquired David LeNeveu saw his first action against the big club. He looked decent enough, but it’s hard to tell on a day like today.
OK, folks, a lot to do before game time.