Looks like we didn’t have to wait long to see new lines. At practice today, the Rangers showed off new lines and pairings in preparation for their Friday matchup at The World’s Crappiest Coliseum (I don’t mean that as a slight against the Islanders, who may turn some heads this year. I mean that as a slight against the arena itself. My shoes stick to the ground while I’m there). The new lines are relatively expected, considering Wojtek Wolski may be out longer than expected with his lingering groin issue:
Brandon Dubinsky-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik
Ruslan Fedotenko-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Brandon Prust-Derek Stepan-Brian Boyle
Mats Zuccarello-Erik Christensen-Mike Rupp
The first thing people will notice is that Zuccarello is on the fourth line, and with good reason. He simply has not impressed that much after a strong preseason. His game against Los Angeles was horrible, and he did not do anything to earn more ice time against Anaheim.
It is a fair assumption that when Wolski returns, he will at least get a game with Richards and Gaborik on the top line. In fact, you can pretty much shift every person down a line on the LW when Wolski returns, and it works out for the lines. Of course, that means Zuccarello would sit, which if he continues to play the way he did in the first two games, may be warranted. It will either be him or Christensen that sees the press box.
As for defense, with Mike Sauer not skating today, the pairings were changed:
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Tim Erixon-Steve Eminger
Michael Del Zotto-Jeff Woywitka
It’s not all that intimidating, but assume the Rangers will go back to their original pairings when Sauer is back in the lineup. The depth is questionable, but with two of their top four not skating, the defense will look thin. Sauer in and Woywitka out makes a huge difference. As does Marc Staal in and Tim Erixon out. Unfortunately the latter move won’t happen for a while.