Tom Renney wouldn’t commit to it, but seeing how Nigel Dawes was still on the ice skating sprints while Lauri Korpikoski was already resting in the locker room, it’s safe to say The Korpedo will make his return tonight at Dawes’ expense.
The other scratch will be Petr Prucha, who will be replaced (again) by Dan Fritsche. Should all else remain the same, you could count on on a line of Korpikoski at left wing, Chris Druryat center, and Fritsche at right.
It took only four games for Korpikoski to work his way back after his demotion from Hartford. One of those games, on Saturday night, saw him scoring a hat trick; and if you combine that with the Rangers’ unevenÂ performance in Washington on Saturday, the time was ripe for his return.
“I think I feel more comfortable with the puck now trying to make more offensive plays and get some scoring chances,” Korpikoski said. “You can see that already today.”
Maybe, but of course it didn’t hurt that Henrik Lundqvist took today’s optional skate off and was replaced by former Manhattanville goalie Chad Killam, who has proven to be a bit of a confidence builder for Rangers shooters in the past. Hey, whatever works.
Meanwhile, I asked Korpikoski what he struggled with in his time with the Rangers. The rookie was a minus-3 with just a single shot on goal in seven games, but he was also saddled with the down-low defensive responsibilities of a center while tonight he would presumably be back at wing.
“I would say I was too careful to not mistakes,” he said. “I was concentrating maybe too much on the defensive side. Now I just have t play the game and use my strengths and be more offensive.”
Meanwhile, the more pressing question is: what is behind Chris Drury’s new nickname, “Raymond”? I pressed Paul Mara on this since the defenseman was the one who coined it, but he said he had to check with Drury first. So then I asked Drury.
“We’ll let that one dangle for a little while,” the Rangers captain said.
I will not sleep until I have an answer (OK, that’s probably not true).
Raise your hand if you remember the last time the Rangers played the Oilers at the Garden. You got it: Mark Messier night three seasons ago. The Rangers won in OT.
Henrik Lundqvist is in goal for the fourth straight game.
Somewhat related to Korpikoski’s recall, I asked Renney who he would be unwilling to play on their off wings? This could be an issue if the coach did want to use both Korpikoski and Dawes on the same line since both are lefties. The coach said the only player he wouldn’t use in such a situation is Colton Orr.
Most forwards will say that they actually prefer the off wing in the offensive zone because it’s easier to get off a one-timer. The challenge lies in the defensive zone because you’re receiving and giving passes on your backhand.
Update, 12:41 p.m.: OK, since “Gross went there”:http://njmg.typepad.com/rangersblog/2008/11/does-it-pass-the-logic-test.html, I’ll go there, too: Do you really think the Rangers would trade Brandon Dubinsky and Petr Prucha for Jay Bouwmeester? And if so, does Jay Bouwmeester now have some sort of magical powers that I didn’t know about?
Please. While I don’t doubt for a moment that the Rangers are shopping Prucha—and my guess is that their asking price could be dropping by the day—it’s fair to say Dubinsky isn’t going anywhere. In fact, other than Henrik Lundqvist and maybe Marc Staal, there’s not a player the Rangers would be willing to trade less at this point.
Update, 12:56 p.m.: And here’s the “link to the Rangers’ fashion shoot for Men’s Journal”:http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=391588 starring Drury, Scott Gomez, Wade Redden, Markus Naslund, and Henrik Lundqvist. According to Drury, the players did not get to keep the suits, proving that they all need new agents.
Update, 2:25 p.m.:Â I always thought my job as a Rangers beat writer along with my experiences in the wild world of beer league hockey meant I had some decent insight to offer.
But I can’t compete with a guy who won a Stanley Cup as the Rangers GM.
Check out Neil Smith’s new web site, “NHLGM.com”:http://www.nhlgm.com, which features his various musings on hockey and other related interests. The site does seem like a marketing attempt by Smith to lock up some corporate speaking gigs, but it does have a cool video in which he talks about the 1994 team.