Steve Zipay takes you inside the locker room, home and on the road, with the New York Rangers, and also writes about the NHL, off and on the ice.
Live from Anaheim: What to watch for during Rangers-Ducks
For the third time in four games on this season-opening Western trip, the Rangers (1-2) will face a club staging its home opener, with all the inherent ceremonies, introductions and an energetic crowd.
For the Blueshirts, tonight's clash with the Ducks (2-1) will have a greater emphasis on intensity.
They presumably will be without Rick Nash, who apparently sustained a concussion on a high hit from Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart, who was suspended three games on Thursday for an illegal check to the head.
That means a different right wing for the first line with Derek Stepan and Brad Richards, which could be captain Ryan Callahan, who will be playing his third game since returning from off-season shoulder surgery. He missed the opener in Phoenix.
That will mean a shift in the other lines as well. RW Jesper Fast is the only spare forward, and the simplest option for coach Alain Vigneault would be to install him on the third line, with Brian Boyle and Taylor Pyatt, replacing Callahan. The rookie has been a healthy scratch for the last two games, with Arron Asham in the lineup.
Or Fast could drop to the fourth line, with Derek Dorsett or Asham moving up, if Vigneault decides to keep the third line of Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello intact. They were not very effective during the 9-2 torching by the Sharks, but no one really was.
About the top six on defense, which were often out of position, well, perhaps Justin Falk, obtained from the Wild int he off-season, could see his first action as a Ranger if Vigneault decides to alter one of his pairs.
We'll know more on Nash and the lineup, and have some thoughts from Vigneault and players in a few hours.