GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Jacob Trouba skated with pretty much every Rangers defenseman who practiced on Tuesday, with the exception of his usual partner, K’Andre Miller.
Is a change in the offing for Wednesday night’s game against the Senators at Ottawa?
“Who said we decided to break up Trouba and Miller?” coach Gerard Gallant said with a verbal wink. “If we decide to do that, it’d be because we want more depth in our pairs. We like the way our guys are playing . . . But we might bring a little bit more -- if we decide to do that – a little more experience to the other two pairs. That’s the only reason.”
Another reason could be that Trouba and Miller have played below expectations, as have the Rangers as a whole.
“They’ve had a tough go,” Gallant said. “Goals against them and all that. But they’re a great pair. They’ve played well together all the last year and this year’s been a little bit of a struggle for them. But that’s OK. We’ll battle through it. We’ll see where we’re going to go and we’ll decide.”
Trouba is wearing the captain’s C, but Gallant said he doesn’t think that single letter is weighing him down. More problematic has been the injuries that have slowed the 28-year-old.
“It definitely affects you, for sure,” Gallant said. “There's no doubt. We all do our jobs and you try and do them as best we can, but when you're not 100%, you still do the best you can. He's still a good player. He's still a valuable player for us. But when you’ve got some injuries, you can't do certain things.”
Gallant said he has been giving Trouba practices off, but isn’t thinking about sitting him in games.
“He wouldn’t allow that, trust me,” Gallant said.
Said Trouba: “Talking amongst ourselves and where we want our games to be, a lot of us think they can be better, and I’m included in that. We’re going to keep working and fighting through it.”
Blue notes. Vitaly Kravtsov skated on the third line and could play after missing the last eight games. “Like I talked to him earlier in the year,” Gallant said, “just show us your skill, show us your talent, show us your work ethic. We talked about what kind of player we want on our hockey team. We want them to play fast, we want them to play a 200-foot game, be responsible defensively, and show us your talent. Show us your skill.” . . . Gallant on Igor Shesterkin’s harsh (and profane) comment about his own play after Monday’s loss to the Devils: “He's a professional player. He's a Vezina Trophy winner last year. He's a great goalie and if he wants to be hard on himself and he thinks that's what it takes, then [all right]. He's fine. We know what he brings to our table. He gives us a chance to win every time he plays and that's really important. We love him. He's great for our team and great for our group. We’ll get by that.”