At some point Wade Redden and Markus Naslund will probably compare notes on how to deal with facing their old teams this week. Redden is up first against Ottawa tomorrow, followed by Naslund Wednesday against Vancouver.
The task is probably made easier by the fact that both players are now a part of the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, which last night’s win proved can be attributable to more than just smoke and mirrors.
(I remember two seasons ago when Brendan Shanahan was set to face the Red Wings at the Garden, and at the time the Rangers were well outside the playoff picture. The basic line of questioning: Wait, why did you come here again?)
And at least in Naslund’s case, he can also point to some encouraging numbers that say he’s only benefited from the transition (especially in not having to deal with Western Conference travel).
With Redden, it’s more complicated. The $39 million defenseman hasn’t been close to top form in a Rangers uniform, although his game last night was probably his most proactive since the opening weekend in Prague. And now with Michal Rozsival squarely in the crosshairs at the Garden, Redden has at least been afforded the luxury of fading into the background while he continues to try to find his game.
Either way, it will be a storyline to follow.
Scott Gomez didn’t skate again today, making his return for tomorrow doubtful—especially now that conditioning is probably an issue.
Needless to say, Gomez might not feel the need to rush back as long as the team keeps winning in his absence. But as bad as the Rangers first power play unit has been all season, it is struggling just to get the puck in the zone without Gomez there to transport it. So don’t think the team doesn’t miss him.