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Versatile Barclay Goodrow has been welcome addition for Rangers as injuries mount

Rangers' Barclay Goodrow, left, vies for the puck

Rangers' Barclay Goodrow, left, vies for the puck with Calgary Flames' Blake Coleman on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Calgary, Alberta. Credit: AP/Jeff McIntosh

The injuries keep coming for the Rangers. Nothing insurmountable so far, or especially devastating to the team. But one after the other, they are coming, and all problematic in their own way.

The latest was to physical winger Sammy Blais, who the team announced Tuesday was finished for the season with a knee injury – reportedly a torn ACL. At the same time, coach Gerard Gallant’s team did get back third-line center Filip Chytil from a stint on injured reserve, where he had been for a week with what the team described as an upper-body injury.

In getting Chytil back at the same time he lost Blais, Gallant was able to maneuver his lineup for Tuesday’s home game against the Montreal Canadiens by moving versatile forward Barclay Goodrow from the middle of the third line – where he had been filling in for Chytil -- onto the right wing of the top line, with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. That’s where Blais had been for the previous three games.

"He's done it all year long,’’ Gallant said of Goodrow moving from one position to another to plug holes as they come up. "I mean, is [Goodrow on the first line] temporary? Is it 10 games? I don't know. We'll see. We'll take it, just like with our goaltenders everything else. But [Goodrow]'s played well, he's played in all different positions ... There's other options, obviously, but for right now, that's probably the likely one.’’

Goodrow actually had been playing with Kreider and Zibanejad before Chytil was injured Nov. 6 in Calgary (ironically, after he collided with Blais on his first shift of the game). The Rangers had just returned center Greg McKegg to AHL Hartford, and rather than recall him when Chytil went on IR, the team rolled with Goodrow switching to center and Blais moving to the top line.

Goodrow, 28, started the season as the left wing on the third line, with Chytil and Blais, moved to right wing for a time, with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome, then moved to the first line when Alexis Lafreniere was taken off that line and moved down to the third line. According to Goodrow, it isn’t a problem for him moving between center and the wing.

"The difference, for me, is kind of just my positioning in the ‘D’ zone [and] coming into the neutral zone. I think,’’ he said. "Obviously, once you get into the offensive zone, everyone's going to everywhere anyway, so there's no difference there.

"It's just a matter of my different defensive responsibilities in the ‘D’ zone and taking more faceoffs and stuff like that. But it's not that big of a change, and it's not really that big of an adjustment for me to go back and forth.’’

Entering Tuesday’s game Goodrow had three goals and four assists through the first 15 games, which projects to 16 goals and 38 points on the season. Both would be career highs. He’s never scored more than eight goals in a season ( 2019-20 with San Jose and Tampa Bay). His career high in points is 26, in 2019-20.

The Rangers traded for Goodrow, who won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning the last two seasons, over the summer, and signed him to a six-year, $21.85 million contract extension, hoping he would add the grit to their lineup that had been missing, and provide some leadership, too. They named him one of six alternate captains (along with Zibanejad, Kreider, Panarin, Strome and Jacob Trouba) and Gallant has leaned on him heavily, using him as a first-pair penalty killer and putting him out in late-game situations, when the Rangers are protecting a lead.

New York Sports