Astonishingly, Kevin Klein practiced even with a fractured thumb. The injury occurred on a check from Devils forward Reid Boucher with 3:02 left in the Rangers’ 3-2 loss Tuesday. Klein immediately left the ice in pain.
Coach Alain Vigneault indicated that he would be out indefinitely. It looked bleak. But following the morning skate for tonight’s home game against the Wild, Klein won’t be out as long as expected. That’s why the team didn’t recall an extra defenseman from Hartford. A credit to Klein’s toughness. He won’t play tonight. So, Dylan McIlrath is in.
Klein’s determination sums up the urgency there is with 32 games left. The playoffs are not a certainty. With 59 points and 25 regulation/overtime wins, the Rangers lead the Islanders by a point for second in the division and both the Pens and Devils by two. There’s a lot of work to be done.
Instead, forward Jayson Megna gets another chance. He replaces Tanner Glass, who finally sits after dressing in 25 consecutive games since his recall. To his credit, he’s been better bring a lunch pail work ethic and physical edge to a roster that lacks toughness. But there’s no way they can continue to ice a fourth line that includes both Glass and penalty killer Daniel Paille with Dominic Moore. So, Vigneault chose to stick with Paille, who will be in for a fifth straight game since signing.
The penalty kill remains an eye sore allowing two power play goals in two chances to the Devils. It’s ranked 25th out of 30 teams at 78.4 percent. Ironically, the Wild are 24th killing 79.3 percent. Both teams also have bad power plays. Minnesota is 22nd (17.4) and the Rangers are 24th (17.0).
Speaking of the man-advantage, Vigneault has finally made a change to the top unit promoting Keith Yandle and demoting Ryan McDonagh to the second unit. Here’s how they look:
Still without Rick Nash who did a workout off the ice rather than skate, the lines remain the same except Megna slides into Glass’s spot on the fourth line and gets power play time with the second unit.