Make no mistake, the Rangers could have used him. With the Rangers trimming the roster by one player - Evgeny Grachev was assigned to Harford - then coach John Tortorella might have wanted to wield the ax wider after the Blueshirts were down 4-0 to the Capitals after less than 25 minutes in the matinee at Verizon Center.
The Capitals blew by the Rangers defense regularly, pounced on rebounds and flat out dominated.
"There were turnovers and we had no battles," said Tortorella. "Everybody was bad, it wasn't like one of the young kids struggled, it starts with our veteran guys. I think they thought it was a 7 o'clock start. Those were the worst two periods of the exhibition [season]. I don't think we competed. Maybe it was the 12 o'clock start. We skated them hard the last couple days, maybe that had something to do with it. I'm not holding any grudges. I'm glad they answered [with three goals] in the third period. But now this is done. We'll use the tape of the first two periods as a teaching tool."
Artem Anisimov (with his team-leading fourth goal), Evgeny Grachev (his first) and Donald Brashear - playing his first game here since leaving the Caps in the summer - scored in the third to provide some semblance of balance in the 4-3 loss.
"If we played like that for the first two, it might have been a different outcome," said Vinny Prospal, who played left wing with Brandon Dubinsky at center and Marian Gaborik on the right. "We didn't support our goalie and didn't have enough shots. Then we got our -- kicked between periods."
That was when Tortorella made the call to replace Henrik Lundqvist. "The plan was to play him three (periods), but the way people were playing in front of him, I didn't want it to go any further."
The Rangers must be down between 20 to 23 (non-IR) players and under the cap by late afternoon on Wednesday. Sean Avery (sprained right knee) will probably need to be replaced temporarily, by either Aaron Voros (who played center Sunday) or center Brian Boyle. "I don't think Sean's gonna be available [on Friday when the Rangers open the season in Pittsburgh]," said Tortorella. "It's still pretty stiff . . . But you never know." Chances are, when Avery's ready to return, that player would be re-assigned.
Tortorella said that he wants defenseman Alexei Semenov, 28 and on a tryout, on the team, although he hasn't yet signed a contract. But he was not pleased with defenseman Dan Girardi. "He's got some work to do, not only him," said Tortorella. "To say the least, I've been disappointed with his camp."