Nash, NYR host Dubinsky, Anisimov; McIlrath debuts; lineups
Tonight’s a matchup that we will see more often with CBJ now in the East, with a twist: former Rangers Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov return to the Garden for the first time since the trade, and Rick Nash will play against the team with which he skated for nine years for the first time.
Two other former Rangers are out tonight: Injured Marian Gaborik and scratched Tim Erixon. Derick Brassard (lower-body/back soreness) is out for the Blueshirts, but Derek Dorsett and John Moore are in.
With Marc Staal sidelined, the game will mark the NHL debut of D Dylan McIlrath, a fearless fighter in junior and the minors (see earlier entry); the Rangers, losers of three straight on this nine-game homestand, have just 12 healthy forwards with Ryan Callahan (knee) gone for four to six weeks. So Nash will have some heavy lifting to do…
“He’s a great player,” said Jackets coach Todd Richards. “There’s lot of great players in this league, we saw lots of great players in Pittsburgh, we saw Jagr the other night; what we have to do is check as a group, with discipline and structure; if we get out of that, there’s going to be more open ice for Rick, he can play that one-on-one.”
Nash, who missed the first matchup in Columbus a 4-2 win on Nov. 7 with concussion symptoms, said he was experiencing “a lot of emotions, seeing lot of familiar faces, but at the end of the day we’re in it for two points. It would’ve been fun to go (to Columbus), but now that we’re in same division sure we’re going to have lots of chances. ’’
During his final season, Nash, the team’s former captain, said the divorce from the Jackets "could’ve been a bit smoother; it ended up getting a little messy. When someone asks to move on for the good of his career, you have to assume it’s going to get a little messy. The only thing that kept me going was the fans stayed behind me, they understood my decision, my situation. I was happy to become a Ranger, it was a dream of mine to play for an Original Six team and live in New York."
Nash, who has six goals and five assists in 15 games, said the issue with his current club is that “we’re giving up too many chances, defensively our game’s not good enough right now, we have to commit to solid defense and gain our offense from that.”
Vigneault, who is transitioning to a more conservative approach, said when players are facing their former organization, there’s “a heightened sense of awareness…but the competitior in any player wants to prove to the opposition that they want to win.”
This morning, Dubinsky repeated pretty much the same thoughts as covered in an earlier post, which quoted the Columbus Dispatch. He said that he had to channel his emotions, then settle in after a couple shifts, and expects a friendly reception from “a blue-collar fan base.”
Anisimov took in the surroundings and declared: “Pretty weird. Different dressing room, new scoreboard. Things have changed.” He told me again that he doesn’t miss New York, except for the theaters on Broadway, and prefers the quieter lifestyle of Columbus. He and his wife are expecting their first child in March.
Here’s the projected lines
McDonagh-Girardi; Del Zotto-Stralman; Moore-McIlrath
Foligno - Johansen - Umberger
Calvert - Dubinsky - Atkinson
Jenner - Anisimov - Comeau
Letestu - MacKenzie - Tropp
Tyutin - Johnson
Murray - Savard
Nikitin - Prout