Friday, October 29, 2010
Preview: Grachev to debut versus Candy Canes
The Rangers will try to put Thursday behind them when they play host to the Hurricanes tonight at MSG. John Tortorella received encouraging news on both Artem Anisimov and Michal Rozsival, who are both in the lineup. The MRI on Anisimov's ankle after he blocked a shot came back negative and is good enough for the second-year Russian pivot to play. He'll return to anchoring the club's best line with fellow draftees Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan.
Rozsival, who hyper-extended his knee and limped off with five minutes to go in the loss to Atlanta, is also good to go. Thankfully too because our blueline is very thin. Especially with Tort still not trusting Matt Gilroy even if he and Steve Eminger saw increased minutes the other day. Hell. Eminger actually played his best game. Hopefully, that's a good sign. Once again, Mike Sauer is out with a "mysterious injury." This reminds me of how the Devils operate, except it's probably Tortorella's way of keeping him out for whatever reason.
Evgeny Grachev makes his NHL debut. The 20 year-old Russian who the organization converted to center at Hartford posted a goal and assist with the AHL club. He's up due to enforcer Derek Boogaard, who infected his thumb during a scrap. So, the Rangers give Grachev a look. He'll play on the fourth line alongside slumping Erik Christensen and Todd White. The former '08 third round pick went 12-16-28, -13 with four power play goals in his first pro season with the Wolf Pack. He possesses good size and skill as evidenced during last year's camp. The thing with Grach is becoming more consistent. Maybe that's why they shifted him to center, giving him more responsibility. The way Tort coaches, don't expect too much. We'll put the over/under at six shifts.
Brian Boyle, who continues to impress, has moved up to the second line where he'll join Sean Avery and Ruslan Fedotenko. The most improved Ranger deserves it. Rookie Derek Stepan, who is being challenged by Tortorella to compete better along with Christensen- slides to the third line where he'll try to get Alex Frolov going. The way the ex-King has played reminds us of Petr Nedved and even my boy Kovalev, who both played mostly on the perimeter skating around. What happened to the guy who impressed during preseason? Two goals just won't cut it. He's been invisible. At least the contract is only a year. Brandon Prust stays with Frolov. Hopefully, his grit will rub off. Here are how the lines look:
Henrik Lundqvist is back in following Martin Biron's forgettable home debut. Figure Cam Ward to be in for the Candy Canes, making for a good goalie match-up. With the Knicks visiting the Celtics on MSG, the game can be seen on MSG-Plus.