After the New York Rangers demoralizing loss last night, coach John Tortorella juggled the lines again in practice, and the final product looked like this:
Wojtek Wolski-Erik Christensen-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust
Derek Stepan-Artem Anisimov-Kris Newbury
These will sure to rile up some people, especially the Christensen haters. It is a bit curious to see Christensen and Wolski, who have notably been in Torts’ dog house many times over the past few seasons, on a line with Gaborik. The other thing that might disturb people is that Stepan and Anisimov appear to be on the fourth line. I say “appear” here because we know they will get more than fourth line minutes.
While many will read into these combos with disdain, let’s try and look at the big picture. There are three players on this roster that simply would not be on any competing team’s roster. There is a reason why players like Christensen bounce around the waiver wire, why the Wolski’s of the world get traded twice before turning 26, and why fringe players like Newbury go unclaimed on waivers. The reason is simply that they are not consistent players. Right now, they are roster fillers until the prospects with the CT Whale are ready.
Missing from these forward lines is Mike Rupp, who sat out of practice again today with a nagging injury. Also missing was Michael Del Zotto, who sat out with a hip flexor injury.