Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Asham Misses Practice As Rangers Unveil New Lines At Practice

Arron Asham's missed practice today what what is being called a "minor groin strain." John Tortorella doesn't believe it's serious, but Rangers' beat writer Andrew Gross speculates that it might be enough to keep him out of tomorrow's game against the Bruins at the Garden.

So, with that in mind, here were the new lines during today's practice:

Marian Gaborik-Brad Richards-Rick Nash
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin-Brian Boyle-Taylor Pyatt
Mike Rupp-Jeff Halpern-Stu Bickel

If Asham is out tomorrow Stu Bickel would likely move up to play forward on the fourth line with either Steve Eminger or Matt Gilroy making their season debut on the third d-pairing. Brandon Segal, who dressed in Saturday's season opener in Boston while Asham served his suspension, was sent back down to the Connecticut Whale so the Rangers have no extra forwards on their active roster as of right now.

As for the team itself, John Tortorella is understandably upset with the Rangers' lethargic play over the first two games of the season and thinks their "mindset needs to toughen quickly." I fully understand the urgency of Torts wanting this team to turn things around, but I'm not too concerned just yet. The Rangers played two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference at a time when they're still developing chemistry with each other. Teams like the Penguins and Bruins did not overhaul their roster the way the Rangers did when they traded for Rick Nash over the offseason, so it's only natural the Rangers will need some time to get things straightened out. Problem is, they really can't afford to go much longer without figuring things out because of the abbreviated season.

Speaking of Rick Nash, I don't think there's any question he's been the Rangers' best player over the first two games of the season. Nash has a goal and an assist but could have even more than that. The way he uses his size is simply awesome, and that's something the Rangers have needed for a while. It's only a matter of time before he really goes on a tear in my opinion. We've seen that he has the ability to dominate a game and Rangers fans have to be happy with what they've seen so far.

Torts also went on to praise the performance of Taylor Pyatt, calling him one of the Rangers' better players through the first two games of the season, which he admits isn't exactly good news. Pyatt's role is supposed to be that of a third line checking forward who will chip in with a goal every now and then. We've seen him get some power play time, too, which surprised me a bit, but his play has certainly warranted it. He's been strong on the forecheck and with the puck - something the rest of the team needs to begin to pick up on.

Finally, there hasn't been any official word on whether or not Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal tomorrow night against the Bruins after he was pulled in the second period on Sunday night against the Penguins. Steve Zipay of Newsday Tweeted that he doesn't expect Lundqvist to get a full game off "until he gets a win or two." My personal opinion? I see Marty Biron getting the start in goal on Thursday night in Philly. Biron has played well against the Flyers in the past and it seems like a good time to give him his first start of the season since it'll be the Rangers' fourth game in six nights. I don't think Lundqvist has been terrible, but it's clear he is very rusty from all the time off since his last meaningful game last April. I think he'll be fine, but like the rest of the team, he doesn't have the benefit of having an 82-game schedule to figure things out.