For Halloween, prospect Evgeny Grachev has his Avatar costume all set: blue mask, tail, ears.
Tonight he'll wear a more familiar outfit---a Rangers uniform---for the first time in an NHL regular season game.
The 20-year-old Russian, who admitted he was surprised by yesterday's callup, said a few minutes ago that he was told by coach John Tortorella that he would play tonight against the Canes. What position? He prefers center, but has played there and on both wings in Hartford.
Because it appears that he will replace Derek Boogaard (infected finger) in the lineup, Grachev will presumably play on the wing.
As I wrote yesterday, it would make some sense for Grachev, who had some chemistry with Derek Stepan in a prospect scrimmage and in Traverse City, to be paired with Stepan tonight, but he confessed : "I have no idea."
Grachev (1-1-2 in nine games in the A), the Rangers third rounder in the 2008 draft, said the entire Wolf Pack team is struggling offensively, and had been told by coaches that he must play harder and more physically. He had 12 goals and 16 assists last season.
Grachev was summoned as a precaution last season before an Oct. 8 game in Washington, but when he arrived, he was a healthy scratch because Ryan Callahan was ready to go. "It's a little different this time. Last time I flew in and arrived there at like 5 o'clock and never got to play," he said.
Meanwhile, a pleased Artem Anisimov, whose ankle survived an MRI, and Michael Rozsival (knee) skated with eight other Rangers at today's optional and declared themselves 100 percent. "It was a test drive. No issues," said Rozsival.