After five games out of the lineup with an ankle injury, Scott Gomez will make his return tonight against Phoenix, in which he is expected to skate on a line with Chris Drury and Ryan Callahan.
“We’re going to give it a go,” Tom Renney said.
It was worth asking Renney whether Gomez’s return had anything to do with the team’s struggles of late, even if the team has been adamant in the past about not rushing injured players back into the lineup.
“We’re 14-7,” said Renney, leaving out the two overtime losses. “He’d have to be ready to go. I wouldn’t rush anybody’s return. I wouldn’t jeopardize anybody’s career, nor would I jeopardize a loss by putting a guy in the lineup that shouldn’t be there.”
So there you have it. Gomez’s return will come at the expense of Nigel Dawes, who despite having a couple of chances against Ottawa (including one in which he missed a half-open net), will be a scratch. Petr Prucha and Patrick Rissmiller, who is back from Hartford (after registering seven assists in six games), will also be out.
With that in mind, the lines and defensive pairings will be what I reported yesterday.
It will be the first game this season that Paul Mara and Marc Staal have not been a pairing.
The King is back on his throne after his five-goal shelling against Vancouver last week.
“I would think it served him well,” Renney said of the goaltender getting a few days to rest since then. “I certainly hope so — that’s why we did it.”
As for Prucha, Renney acknowledged that the player’s extended absence from the lineup has been a concern. What he didn’t mention is that Prucha is the type of player would love to unload if they could ever get a reasonable offer in return.
Of course, it’s hard to move a guy who makes $1.6 million and isn’t playing; and I don’t think the Rangers are willing to accept something as little as a mid-round pick in return.
But it makes no sense to hold onto a guy like that if he isn’t going to play.
Meanwhile, after all the fanfare for Wade Redden and Markus Naslund last week, Fred Sjostrom isn’t expecting the same when it comes to his first game against the Coyotes. But it’s significant to him nonetheless.
“Markus and Redds were there for 10-plus years. I was there for 3 1/2. It’s special to me. It’s the team I got drafted by and still have a lot of friends on. But I’m going to approach it like any other game. But I obviously want nothing more than to beat them, that’s for sure,” Sjostrom said. “And our team right now, we need a win. It’s a big game in a lot of ways.”