KANATA, Ontario — With Mats Zuccarello (groin strain) and Vladislav Namestnikov (concussion protocol) not on the road trip, the Rangers took only 11 forwards to Canada and opted not to call anyone up from AHL Hartford. Instead, for the second time this season, they dressed a lineup that featured 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Rather than figure out how to rotate seven defensemen, coach David Quinn played Brendan Smith as a right wing on the fourth line with Steven Fogarty and Tim Gettinger for the first two periods. In the third period, he moved Smith back to defense and benched Kevin Shattenkirk. He also changed up his forward lines anddouble-shifted a different winger with Fogarty and Gettinger when he did use the fourth line. Asked why Shattenkirk didn’t play in the third period, Quinn said, “That’s between Kevin and I.’’
Zucc: Trade possible
Zuccarello, who missed his ninth game in the last 11 because of a groin strain, reportedly said on a Norwegian podcast that he believes he will be traded this season.
“I’m pretty prepared for it to happen,’’ Zuccarello said, according to a translation posted on Twitter. “I’m really just thinking it’s going to happen.’’
A Rangers spokesman said Zuccarello denied saying he expects to be traded, nor does he believe he will be. The spokesman said Zuccarello’s point is that in the last year of his contract, he has to be “prepared for anything.’’
Fredrik Claesson returned to Ottawa for the first time since he was let go last summer. During a TV timeout in the first period, the public address announcer said, “Welcome back, Freddie Claesson!’’ He smiled and waved.