Namestnikov skated just 12:06 in Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the Flyers, finishing with one shot and a minus-1 rating.
Namesnikov had a goal and an assist in his Rangers debut, but the trade deadline acquisition has been mired in a slump since with just one point in 10 subsequent appearances. It’s beginning to look like the 25-year-old Russian’s value in Tampa Bay stemmed more from who he was skating with rather than his own abilities.
Lundqvist (back) won’t be in the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Flyers, Colin Stephenson of Newsday reports.
Lundqvist was a little shaken up when two players collided with him late in the third period of Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets, but he was able to collect himself and finish the game. Nonetheless, with the Rangers all but eliminated from playoff contention, there’s no reason for coach Alain Vigneault to have a banged-up Lundqvist dress for Thursday’s clash with Philadelphia. With Hank unavailable, Alexandar Georgiev will get the start against the Flyers, with Ondrej Pavelec (knee) slotting in as his backup.
Lundqvist stopped 26 of 30 shots in Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets.
Columbus’ offense has been steamrolling everyone in its path during the team’s current nine-game winning streak, and Lundqvist wasn’t able to slow it down after getting the prior three games off to try and clear his head. The veteran netminder has won only two of his last 11 decisions, posting a weak .899 save percentage over that stretch, and with the Rangers are all but eliminated from the playoffs, they have little incentive to give Lundqvist his usual workload over the final weeks of the season.
ST. LOUIS – Watching Chris Kreider on the ice lately, it’s easy to forget that it’s been less than three months since his arm swelled up because of a blood clot on Dec. 27. His trademark speed has been in full force since he returned on Feb. 23 against the Wild, less than seven weeks after he underwent a rib resection, a malformed rib he had his whole life causing the clot, signs of which included trouble breathing and coughing up blood.
Kreider is smiling a lot these days. He’s grateful for his health, appreciative for the chance to play hockey again, and his return not just to play but play with zip and at a level meeting pre-health-scare expectations is remarkable and a bright spot in a lost Rangers season.
“I’m having a ton of fun,” Kreider said Saturday after earning two more assists in the Rangers’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Blues. “This is free hockey. Some of the words that are thrown around, you never know. You never know if you’re gonna play this game again.”
That is why he’s trying to enjoy the ride and not take anything for granted. When he was named the first star Wednesday night in the Rangers’ comeback victory Wednesday against the Penguins after recording three points in the third period and another in overtime, Kreider came back out onto the ice and raised his arms to encourage the crowd to get even louder, relishing the moment.
This may be “free hockey” for Kreider but his work ethic to return to 100 percent and find his top level has stood out to Alain Vigneault
“For me, Kreids has always been a real pro in the sense that, he’s got to be one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached as far as his physical preparation,” Vigneault said. “He works so hard, does so much – sometimes you even wonder if he’s doing a little too much off the ice, and even on the ice.”
Kreider’s second assist Saturday was a no-look backhand pass through the crease to set up Mika Zibanejad’s power-play goal in the second period. Kreider, who had a career-high four points on Wednesday, has 10 points in 11 games since returning from the clot, and he only played about two minutes against Tampa Bay on March 8 after leaving for precautionary reasons following head contact.
In the wake of the Rangers’ moves at the trade deadline, Chris Kreider has been thrust into a bigger leadership role.
(Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)
His recent performances are reminders of how good the 26-year-old Kreider can be when he’s in form, a tantalizing talent who has all the physical tools to be an All-Star. Getting him to be that player more consistently has been a goal of Vigneault’s.
“The way he played (Wednesday,) that was a real powerful game,” Vigneault said. “We’re hoping that he’ll bring a little more consistency, and that’s one of the areas he’s been working on.”
In the wake of the Rangers’ moves at the trade deadline, Kreider has been thrust into a bigger leadership role, Vigneault believing Kreider’s work ethic sets a great example for his teammates. Kreider is now the fourth-most tenured player on the team.
“That’s weird, right? Strange,” Kreider says. “From a young guy, two months later and I’m the old guy. Things can change fast, I guess.”
Kreider knows that better than anyone after his health scare. He’s happy to play the game he loves, now more than ever.
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