What Megna’s recall could mean for Etem

The Rangers have recalled forward Jayson Megna from Hartford. In 34 games for the Wolf Pack in the AHL, the 25-year old Megna is second in team scoring with seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points. That isn’t great production but he did look decent during preseason before being sent down with Brian Gibbons.

Well, it looks like Alain Vigneault plans to dress Megna for tomorrow’s game against the Stars. Assuming Chris Kreider can’t go, then Megna will likely play over Emerson Etem. <gulp> What this says about the coach and organization I’d rather not get into. After just 19 games, are they actually giving up on Etem? Under Vigneault, Etem has hardly been given a chance with talent. He’s mostly been buried on the fourth line.

In part, that’s due to the emergence of Oscar Lindberg. For a while, Lindberg was one of their best performers. But the 24-year old Swede has slumped like the rest of the team. At one point, a third line of Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller or even Viktor Stalberg was effective. They actually got the puck in and cycled driving possession.

I have no clue what the plan is anymore. Vigneault continues to baffle with his lines. Honestly, whatever line Miller is on usually gets a boost. He’s been the one young player who’s shown growth. More active during shifts and more responsible, Miller has eight goals and 11 assists with his 19 points ranking fifth in team scoring. That’s ahead of Kreider and Hayes who were being counted on for offense.

When it comes to the roster, you can’t just look at scapegoats Dan Girardi and Marc Staal. You have to look at the whole picture. That includes Henrik Lundqvist, whose goals-against-average has slipped to 2.51 with a .920 save percentage. Let’s face it. He hasn’t made the big saves during this brutal stretch. Unless he raises his level, the Rangers could actually miss the playoffs. I can’t even believe I just typed that. They have come back to the pack and we’re not even at the All-Star break.

The bottom line is every veteran must step up. That means more consistency out of captain Ryan McDonagh, who hasn’t been the same player. Is it the injuries to the foot and shoulder? It doesn’t matter. It’s insane to play Girardi nightly when he has swelling in his knee. But the schedule is spread out this week. That means he can play tomorrow and then rest up for the weekend.

Speaking of insanity, can anyone explain why Girardi received a team high 22:15 of ice-time in the 3-0 loss to Florida? If you have a player who’s not 100 percent to begin with and has had his issues, why would he get that amount of time? This isn’t a criticism of the player who wasn’t at fault on Saturday. It’s on the coaching staff.

Game management hasn’t been a strength. It was also a factor in last year’s Game 7 disappointment in the Eastern Conference Final on home ice. Not much is going right for the Rangers these days. Will it change against the league’s top offense featuring Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin? Don’t answer that.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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