So it turns out the Devils aren’t the only team contending with injuries tonight.
Scott Gomez’s leg injury — some are already speculating it’s his ankle, but I can’t confirm — has turned out to be worse than expected. He won’t play tonight, and is listed as day-to-day.
While still second on the team in scoring with 13 points (three goals, 10 assists), Gomez has struggled the past few games. Curiously, I hadn’t seen it in his mobility as much as I have in his unwillingness to engage in contact. Against Edmonton, there was at least one instance when he carelessly dished off the puck when about to get hit.
“That’s a question for the individual,” Tom Renney said when asked if the injury as affected Gomez’s play. “He’s skating hard. He’s working hard. As far as being able to play, I don’t know, but he’s certainly been playing hard.”
Renney said Gomez has had an MRI on his leg, but that the player is mostly dealing with pain. As recently as yesterday, the coach said Gomez couldn’t risk further damage by playing. He backed off that a little tonight.
“It’s precautionary as much as anything,” Renney said. “But if it compromises the player or the team, you have to do the right thing.”
Gomez played in 81 games last season, his only missed game coming after badly bruising his ribs in a late-season game in Philadelphia.
No official word on line changes since Renney said he was still contemplating his combinations. What the coach did say was he didn’t want to jumble everything because of the absence of one player. As I mentioned earlier, Chris Drury will go back to center, while Petr Prucha will again be a scratch.
As for Nigel Dawes, Renney said the player was slotted to play tonight regardless of Gomez’s injury, in large part because of his success last season (four goals, one assists) against New Jersey.
“We look at that,” Renney said, “I looked at the shootout the other night and I thought, ‘Hmm, it would have been a good idea to have No. 10 on the bench. But you look at the success he’s had against New Jersey. It’s more of a gut call as opposed to anything specific.”
Patrick Rissmiller was mentioned again today in passing, which is the most action the left wing has seen of late. Renney noted that Rissmiller could be an option for the Rangers, but he also said the player has missed enough time where his conditioning would be a factor. One possibility? A conditioning assignment in Hartford in which he wouldn’t have to pass through waivers.
Update, 6:37 p.m.: For what it’s worth, I, too, am disturbed by the picture to the right. Dude, we’re happy that you’ve dropped the weight. But could you still put some pants on?
(Although, I shouldn’t be complaining: these ads are keeping me in business).
Update, 6:52 p.m.: Drury will be with Callahan and Naslund to start, meaning you can count on a reunion of Voros, Dubinsky, and Zherdev, and a third line of Dawes, Korpikoski, and Fritsche.
Update, 7 p.m.: Sure enough, the Rangers just announced Patrick Rissmiller is off to Hartford on a conditioning assignment.
Update, 7:20 p.m.: Another listless start in which the Rangers can’t get any pucks deep, and are instead running around their own zone. The result is a Mike Mottau shot, an easy Travis Zajac rebound, and a 1-0 Devils lead.
Update, 7:44 p.m.: Blair Betts was probably the Rangers best player in the first period. I’ll just let that thought sit for a moment. Seriously, it’s never a good sign when the only line that appears to be displaying any urgency is the line that has the least chance of scoring. But that’s been the case so far.
Update, 8:16 p.m.: So it’s fair to say the Devils’ hopes of scratching out a 1-0 lead and then having Kevin Weekes lock it down the rest of the way isn’t going to work out.
Needless to say, a much better period by the Rangers. They capitalized on the 5-on-3 and seemed to feed off their own energy the rest of the way. Nice to see the Korpedo notch his first career regular season goal. That you were able to see it is something you can tell your grandkids about.
Update, 9:11 p.m.: The Rangers take a 5-2 lead on Nikolai Zherdev’s second goal of the game. That Zherdev and Chris Drury are tied for the team lead in goals is in line with what many expected at the start of the season. But they’ve arrived there in unexpected fashion — Zherdev playing fairly consistently, Drury by exploding only recently.