TORONTO — Left wing Brendan Lemieux will miss three to four weeks with a broken hand, Rangers coach David Quinn said Saturday. The Rangers called up forward Steven Fogarty from AHL Hartford, where he had been serving as team captain, to take Lemieux’s spot. Fogarty was in the lineup Saturday night against the Maple Leafs.
“Every player has to pick up their physicality just a little bit, regardless of whether he’s in the lineup or not,’’ Quinn said when asked how the Rangers will replace the physical, edgy Lemieux. “That’s something we talked about as a group. And it’s not about running people; it’s about small-area battles, where you’re not fishing for a puck, and you get inside people, regardless of the size. That’s something that we recognize we have to be better at.’’
Fogarty, 26, had nine goals (tied for second-most on the team) and 23 points (tied for the team lead) in 32 games with Hartford. Asked why the 6-3, 208-pounder was the choice to come up, Quinn said: "It's a simple phone call: Who’s playing the best?’’
Quinn made one other change to the lineup that beat Carolina on Friday, scratching Brendan Smith, the converted defenseman who had been a fixture on the fourth line, and inserting Micheal Haley.
Quinn said there had been “just a little bit of a slippage in [Smith’s] play’’ and added that Haley had played well in his last game Monday in Philadelphia. It’s the first time Smith, a native of Mimico, Ontario, has been a healthy scratch this season.
Quinn said sitting Smith was “just a decision we made for tonight.’’ When Smith is active, he provides insurance against a defenseman getting injured during a game. He plays forward during five-on-five play and plays defense on the penalty kill.