Tuesday, December 10, 2013
W2W4: Rangers vs. Predators
By Katie Strang
At a glance: In what began as an otherwise pretty ordinary pregame briefing Tuesday morning ended with Rangers coach Alain Vigneault becoming defensive and a bit unhinged at questions directed towards his personnel decisions. So what has him agitated? Vignault has indicted his complacent 15-15-1 club on several occasions over the past week about the team’s lack of collective toughness and willingness to compete. Entering Tuesday’s match against the Nashville Predators, Vigneault hopes to see something different out of a Rangers squad that has dropped two straight.
Added element: Asked if he was satisfied with the team’s grit Sunday night, Vigneault was cryptic in alluding to the team’s current personnel. Now we know why. In the wake of Sunday’s uninspired 4-1 loss to the Capitals, the Rangers recalled rugged veteran Arron Asham from the American Hockey League and sent young prospect J.T. Miller back to Hartford. The fourth line will be a tougher one to play against Tuesday with both Asham back and Derek Dorsett returning from a wrist injury.
Preds on skid: The Predators aren’t exactly coasting, either. Barry Trotz and his crew have lost five straight and look to snap their skid Tuesday against the Rangers before heading home to Nashville for a three-game homestand.
Staal sits again: Vigneault confirmed what many had feared -- that defenseman Marc Staal does indeed have a concussion. While that news is sure to bring the doom and gloom, Vigneault did try to stifle any long-term concerns about the 26-year-old’s health. He said that the head injury is not believed to be as serious as the one he suffered previously, the lingering effects of which forced him to miss 36 games in 2011-12. The Rangers are holding off on sending him to the team’s preferred neurologist, MI-based Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, as well -- a good sign that Staal may avoid missing extended time out.
Michael Del Zotto will play his second straight game in Staal's absence, though Vigneault indicated that he may juggle the defensive pairings.