Erik Christensen has always been a hot topic of debate amongst Ranger fans. Personally, I am not a big fan, and I think it is ridiculous to put him on the first line. Others feel the exact opposite, because EC does have a lot of raw talent that he showcases on occasion. The problem with EC is that he only showcases his talent on occasion. We have all seen EC make some great plays, but the majority of the time, he is invisible on the ice. Being invisible when you’re paired with Marian Gaborik is a tough feat to accomplish. It appears that EC’s inconsistent play has started to really get to coach John Tortorella as well.
During yesterday’s skate, Christensen was wearing a yellow jersey while playing on the fourth line with Derek Boogaard. With Artem Anisimov sitting out of practice, faith in the center would have been shown by moving him up a line during practice, not down a line. As per Andrew Gross, Tortorella is getting weary with Christensen’s play of late, particularly because of the aforementioned inconsistency:
“It’s about trying to make a difference,” Tortorella said. “We continue to bring it to his attention. But, sooner or later, the player’s got to grab a hold of it.”
Reading between the lines of that quote, Tortorella is giving Christensen one last chance to solidify his spot on the roster. With Todd White showing signs of life, and making $2.375 million, the itch to get him in the lineup is becoming more apparent. There are other signs that EC’s playing time is soon to take a hit, as yesterday the Rangers called up Evgeny Grachev as a “just in case” for the injured Boogaard. However, it is unlikely that Boogaard will miss time with his infected hand, especially after what appeared to be a decent performance (I couldn’t watch the game) in the Rangers loss to Atlanta on Wednesday night. With EC skating on that fourth line during a short-handed practice, and Grachev playing center in Hartford, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to see EC scratched and Grachev skating between Frolov and Prust. We won’t know until later today what the verdict is, but what does seem to be clear is that EC has seen four different NHL teams for a reason.