Here we are again, as in most sports, on the medical beat.
Artem Anisimov, who didn't practice today after being hit with a shot on the outside of the right ankle last night in the 6-4 loss to the Thrashers, received good news on his MRI. He'll play Friday against the Canes, coach John Tortorella said. And so will Michal Rozsival, who hyper-extended his knee in the third period and couldn't finish the game.
But Derek Boogaard, who has played all nine games in his first year with the Rangers, may be out with an infected finger. He cut the knuckle of the left index finger during a fight with Shawn Thornton of the Bruins and it's swollen. He had difficulty gripping the stick in practice today, and left early.
As a precaution, the Rangers recalled Evgeny Grachev from Hartford, who has just one goal and one assist, low numbers on a team that, as a whole, is struggling to score. Grachev has played all three forward spots for the WolfPack, and it's unclear where he'll play on the fourth line if Boogaard is scratched.
What seems clear is that Anisimov will return to center between Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. Todd White skated there in practice. Derek Stepan skated between Alex Frolov and Brandon Prust in place of Erik Christensen, who was moved to the fourth line this morning. And in Stepan's spot was Brian Boyle, between Sean Avery and Ruslan Fedotenko. Boyle had filled in there during the third period on Monday when Stepan was benched. White, who scored Monday, could get a shot with Frolov and Prust.
More on Stepan later, who told me that his error-filled 10:59 "was the first time I felt like a rookie". Tortorella said the dip was expected, and would be going over video with Stepan this afternoon. Stepan could slide to the fourth line with Christensen and Grachev.
Or theline could be Christensen-White-Grachev, which has more offensive upside than the early-season trio of Boogaard-Boyle-Prust. On the other hand, Prust, who told me he is seeing the eye doctor tomorrow to have a follow-up exam and stitches removed, could drop with Grachev elevated to the third line with Frolov and White.
I tend to think Tortorella would start with Grachev on four, but, then again, I was convinced that Henrik Lundqvist was going to start against the Thrashers. Wrong.
Prust's right eye, clipped by a high-stick from Gregory Campbell in Boston, is only "marginally" better, he said, and wasn't sure whether he will continue to wear a visor. Given his condition, Prust, who was a minus-2 but registered a team-high five hits against the Thrashers, said he was unhappy that he couldn't drop the gloves "to try to spark the guys."
On defense, because Rozsival will play, the only question is the third pair, and with Tortorella saying that Matt Gilroy is his best option on the left side and his praise of Steve Eminger's physical play, it appears that Michael Sauer will be a healthy scratch again. Gilroy played 16:36 on Monday; Eminger (three hits) 15:44
Going back through my notebook to flesh out some more (Gaborik on bike again today), so swing by later....