So here are the new lines tonight:
You may now begin debating. As I suspected, Tom Renney cited defensive concerns for breaking up Scott Gomez and Nikolai Zherdev. It’s fair to say that the tendency of both players to inch their way up ice prematurely was making the coach nervous. The line was a combined minus-10 in Thursday’s loss.
“There’s a defensive concern there but I don’t think it’s something I wouldn’t come back to,” Renney said. “I like the combination of people. I think they’re a real offensive threat. But what I want to do tonight and maybe for the next couple of games is to get some defensive traction.”
<li>Amazing that the Rangers have had eight shootouts this season, and the Flames haven’t had one. Hence Mike Keenan’s response to a question of whether teams are playing conservative to work their way into shootouts.
“They may be playing that way, but we haven’t,” the coach said.
<li>Wade Redden is out and remains day-to-day with a leg injury. Renney said Wednesday in Atlanta was a possibility for the defenseman. Of course, if Corey Potters handles himself well tonight, there might not be a need to rush Redden back.
More in a bit…
Update, 8:07 p.m.: You have to love the 14 minutes without a stoppage, unless you had to use the bathroom and you were waiting for a whistle. For the rest of us, it was compelling stuff.
My personal favorite moment came when Petr Prucha threw a hard check on Todd Bertuzzi in the corner, and Bertuzzi started jawing at the referee to complain. Seriously? Todd Bertuzzi? Off a hit from Petr Prucha?
Meanwhile, an impressive start for Corey Potter, with perhaps the lone exception coming on his first shift when he looked like he wanted nothing more than to get rid of the puck as quickly as possible. But other than that, he was poised.
Update, 8:59 p.m.: Well Tom Renney, here’s that defensive hockey you were asking for. The only little glitch was that four-on-two that led to the Flames’ goal. That rush produced Calgary’s only two shots of the second period. And since the Rangers weren’t exactly overwhelming at the other end, they still find themselves down a goal heading into the third.