OK, a lot of ground to cover. I’m running late because I just did 10 minutes on Edmonton radio. I’m huge there, in case you didn’t know (not really):
<li>Update, 6:30 p.m.: Here are the lines:
Naslund-Gomez-Callahan; Drury-Dubinsky-Zherdev; Voros-Korpikoski-Fritsche; Sjostrom-Betts-Orr
Earlier: Tom Renney said his plan is to use Lauri Korpikoski at center tonight, which would open the door for Chris Drury to move back to wing.
Also, look for Aaron Voros off of Brandon Dubinsky’s flank and moving to a line with Korpikoski and Dan Fritsche.
Renney was being coy about the other combations, but if I had to guess — which is dangerous — I’d count on Drury going back with Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund, while Ryan Callahan will be Nikolai Zherdev and Brandon Dubinsky. But again, these are just guesses.
When asked his rationale for sitting Nigel Dawes — although I’m not sure how much rationale you need seeing how Dawes has just one goal this season — Renney said he thought the team needed some more toughness after Saturday’s debacle in Washington.
“The game in Washington suggested the need to be a firmer team, as physical as we can be with the assets we have,” Renney said.
<li>As for my suggestion of moving Fred Sjostrom off the fourth line, Renney sounded a bit like John Muckler a few years back, when the former Rangers coach said the media was overhyping a then young and underutilized Manny Malhotra.
“I think one of the things that’s happened with Freddy is he’s been projected as a first- or second-line guy his whole career and I’m not sure that’s what he is,” Renney said. “I’m not saying we won’t get him to that point. I think that’s a nice objective for us, but I think the tendency is to play him up and all of a sudden that dries up. The expectations become far too high and you endÂ up being disappointed.”
Bear in mind that Renney was saying all of this in the context of being “really, really happy with Fred’s game right now.”
Just as long as he’s playing on the fourth line…
<li>Michael Russo in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune had a story over the weekend saying that U.S. Olympic team GM Brian Burke and his staff have “already begun evaluating talent for the 2010 Games in Vancouver”:http://www.startribune.com/sports/wild/34127899.html?elr=KArksD:aDyaEP:kD:aUnc5PDiUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU. The story says that while the likes of Scott Gomez and Chris Drury are likely to be back, a new generation of players are also being scouted as well.
With that in mind, I would have to think Brandon Dubinsky could be one of those meriting a look, especially given his strong performance in last spring’s World Championships. But when I asked the player about it, he said nothing good comes out of worrying about it.
“I think it took a little while for me to learn, but when you’re in juniors and you sit there wondering what scouts are in the stands and what scouts are watching you, or are you going to get invited to prospects camp, it ends up being more destructive than productive,” Dubinsky said. “Right now I’ve decided I’m going to play my best to help this team win and if that’s something they want and recognize, then maybe I’ll be able to help their team win.”
Of course, Dubinsky did concede the World Championships experience only fed his desire to play in the Olympics.
“Anytime you have a chance to play for your country, it’s something to be proud of,” he said. “Obviously in the World Championships we had meeting and they said they were looking for the Olympic team. That’s when they start the process. It was something to think about when I was there and part of Team USA, but I’m back here and it’s out of thought process.”
Update, 8:38 p.m.: The Rangers head to the third down a goal. It’s another game when they’ve had enough chances to be winning, but also another game that featured some notable lapses, and some more listless play from both Wade Redden and Michael Rozsival.
I’ve always said the Rangers don’t need to carry a seventh defenseman as long as Hartford is so close. But now I’m seeing a reason why you might need to call someone up: No one on the back end faces even the remote threat of being scratched.