Barclay Goodrow has played all over the ice for the Rangers this season and the 29-year-old forward is on the move again Friday against the Devils at Madison Square Garden in their final game before heading off on a four-game road trip.
The injury suffered by forward Kevin Rooney in Wednesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues broke up what had become the Rangers’ checking line, and coach Gerard Gallant responded by moving some pieces around.
One of the main moves was shifting Goodrow, who’d been playing left wing with Rooney at center and Ryan Reaves on the right, to a third-line role. At Thursday’s practice, Goodrow was working with a group that had Filip Chytil, Julien Gauthier and Morgan Barron in it, the four players rotating through three spots.
"We're trying to put lines together as best we can,’’ Gallant said Thursday. "Goodrow's a good player. He plays everywhere… And so you move guys around a little bit.’’
As he’s said all season, Goodrow doesn’t mind moving around. He said Thursday that he actually kind of likes it. The question for him was what the difference is for him playing on the top line, with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad, or the fourth line, with Rooney and Reaves.
"I like to keep my game the same,’’ Goodrow said. "You're at your best when you're doing what you can do best, to the best of your ability. So I think, when you're jumping around lines, I don't think you're supposed to change your game that much, or else you're not really bringing much to that line. I think you need to bring the game that got you here, what the coaches see in you, and the game that's going to effectively help the team and help the line.’’
But, Goodrow was asked, even if his game doesn’t change regardless of the line he is on, might his role change depending on who he is playing with? For instance, would he be expected to be more of a leader or mentor if he’s playing with youngsters in Chytil and Gauthier as opposed to when he’s with veterans such as Rooney and Reaves?
"I think whether you're playing on a guy's line or not… you can always help them,’’ he said. "There's always little things that you can point out here and there. I don't think it's necessarily you have to be linemates to be able to help a guy out. But yeah, it's fun playing with different guys and it's something I've gotten used to.’’
The ability to adapt to different linemates comes in handy in special teams situations, too. Just about all season, Goodrow and Rooney have been the first pair of forwards on the penalty kill. But with Rooney on injured reserve, and unavailable Friday and for at least the first two games of the road trip, Goodrow was going to have a new partner in Greg McKegg. The two killed penalties together in the final two periods of Wednesday’s game and it went well, according to Goodrow.
"I think chemistry is important on a PK,’’ he said. "Once you get to know what the tendencies of the partner you're killing with [are]… if he prefers to be ‘F1’ or ‘F2,’ or strong side or weak side, or whatever it is, you can kind of build a connection. And even if you're not looking at him on the play, you kind of know where he's going to be on the ice. [Rooney] and I have found some good chemistry throughout this year, but when he went out [Wednesday] night I thought ‘Kegger’ did a great job in killing some big penalties.’’