In news which doesn’t really bother me, the Rangers will sit out four players tomorrow when they visit D.C. and take on the soon to be repeat President’s Trophy winning Caps. Once again, Ryan McDonagh will rest missing a third consecutive game. Three forwards are also out with “bumps and bruises.”
Whatever that means, the Daily News’ Justin Tasch broke it down further in a tweet:
So, there you have it. No Rick Nash or Mats Zuccarello. I’m fine with that. There’s no point in playing them. They’re pretty much locked into the top wildcard unless they somehow run the table and Columbus gets no points in their last three. They were getting blown out at last check by Pittsburgh 4-0. The Pens will go up three points on them for second in the Metro.
Due to some silly tiebreak only the NHL can come up with, if the Rangers reach 106 points and have identical ROW to the Jackets and remain tied, they would omit the first game of the season series. A Columbus win, meaning each team would get four points in the series. How cheesy can they get. Considering it’s the same league that made it no secret they weren’t going to participate in the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, what would you expect? Logic doesn’t apply to this league.
The other forward joining Nash and Zuccarello on the sidelines is Jesper Fast. The gritty Swede will miss tomorrow’s meaningless match at Washington, who I think can lock up the best record if they indeed win tonight and Wednesday. With three forwards out, that means a Brandon Pirri sighting.
Most interesting, Pavel Buchnevich will get a look on the top line with Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan. So, he takes Zuccarello’s place. I’m curious to see how he does. The second line will be centered by Mika Zibanejad with Pirri and Jimmy Vesey. J.T. Miller and Michael Grabner get one more look together with Kevin Hayes. The fourth line will be Matt Puempel with Oscar Lindberg and Tanner Glass.
With McDonagh still out, that means it’s the same six D. Brady Skjei obviously will play a bigger role. So will Brendan Smith, who scored a beauty of a backhand for his first goal as a Ranger. He definitely should be re-signed. That also means Nick Holden, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein.
Henrik Lundqvist once again will be in net. I wonder if he’ll be given the night off at Ottawa Saturday or will it be Sunday against Pittsburgh in the home finale. Antti Raanta should get one game to stay sharp. Plus Lundqvist can use one more day off before it gets going probably on Wednesday, April 12.
As far as playoff scenarios, the Bruins clinched tonight with a 4-0 shutout of the Lightning at home. A game marred by an ugly spearing major from Brad Marchand. It was a blatant cheap shot on Jake Dotchin. There is no excuse. As much as get on the league for looking the other way when Sidney Crosby does this stuff, it’s never as bad as this:
That’s why Marchand is universally hated. He still pulls stunts like this. For as good a player as he is, this is just idiotic. It could’ve cost his team. He was assessed a major and game misconduct. The play will be automatically reviewed. Figure Marchand to be suspended the rest of the regular season (two games) and who knows if they have the guts to ban him three more games which would hurt them in the first round.
I don’t understand what he’s thinking. He is their best player. An MVP candidate. But maybe not after that. That could sway voters. Maybe they’ll just select Sergei Bobrovsky or Nikita Kucherov as the third candidate behind Connor McDavid and Crosby. Or even Erik Karlsson if he gets Ottawa in. Auston Matthews deserves consideration. The Leafs are a win away. The rookie has 39 goals and 67 points. Patrick Kane and Nicklas Backstrom also are candidates.
I love Marchand because he’s a complete player who can impact the game. But when he does stuff like tonight, it only solidifies the argument for why he’s loathed. It also is why he can’t be respected. There’s no place in the game for that.
Right now, you have six teams in. The Metro four of the Caps, Pens, Jackets and Rangers. Plus the top Atlantic two of the Habs and Bruins, who deserve credit for not rolling over. The Leafs have 93 points with 38 ROW which is the first tiebreaker. They will still have three games left to get two points. The Senators are closing in leading the Red Wings 2-0 with four and a half minutes left. A win gets them to 94 with three left. The Islanders can still reach 94 if they win out minus captain John Tavares. They’re currently tied with the Predators 1-1 in the third period. But they need tons of help. The Bolts can also get to 94 by winning out. Both the Isles and Bolts have 35 ROW. One less than Ottawa who if they win get to 37.