This just wasn’t the Rangers night. A goal discounted for an offsides that wasn’t. Nash missing an empty net by inches. The Panthers shootout game-winner trickled in by even less. That stuff happens. The biggest loss though happened at the start of OT when Zibanejad went down awkwardly behind Lundqvist. I was hoping for something like a 2-week knee sprain, but it sure as hell could’ve been a season-ending ligament injury. All things considered, a break is a good thing. Timetables are usually pretty concrete as opposed to a knee. The Blueshirts will welcome him back by February – perhaps right after their “bye week” ends January 13th – for the stretch run.
It’ll be interesting to see what AV does in the interim. I assume Hayes will get a bump to the top six, but his workload won’t change a ton. He’s played about as much as Zib every night. Hayes will probably see a little more time up a man though instead of down one. I don’t see AV trusting Pirri/Jooris/Lindberg centering anything other than the 4th line, so don’t be surprised if JT Miller gets a crack at regular minutes up the middle. Vigneault’s had issue with Miller’s decision-making though & that’s not a trait you want for your centerman.
With Buchnevich still out with mysterious back spasms, Nieves will most likely get recalled and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him skate ahead of Lindberg. Maybe AV goes against his conventional wisdom & puts the speedy Boo there in hopes Zib’s injury doesn’t need to cause a complete overhaul across 3 or 4 lines. We’ll have to wait & see. I’m less worried about Hayes’ ability to step up – but how will his absence in the bottom six affect their balance which has been their calling card so far?
Gotta be Pirri at 3C between Grabs & JT then.
An 82 game season is a long one. It’s been all roses for the first quarter but it wasn’t gonna last forever. Welcome to our first dose of adversity, boys & girls.