TAMPA, Fla. — Two days after the game of his young NHL career, 18-year-old Rangers phenom Kaapo Kakko was scratched from Thursday night’s game against the Lightning with the flu.
Coach David Quinn said 90 minutes before the game that he might have to juggle the lineup because of a flu bug that was making its way around the team, but he didn’t mention which players were affected. Quinn said the lineup decisions would be announced after pregame warmups.
Kakko, who had two goals on Tuesday and had five in his last six games, appeared on the ice for warmups. But he did not make it for the game.
Micheal Haley replaced Kakko in his first game since Nov. 6 and ninth appearance of the season.
According to NHL Stats and Information, Kakko on Tuesday became the first 18-year-old to register a multi-goal game in Rangers history. Since 2005-06, Kakko is the one of seven 18-year-olds who have recorded six or more goals in their first 16 career NHL games (along with Jordan Staal, Patrick Kane, Evander Kane, Jeff Skinner, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Patrik Laine).
The Rangers were also without top-line center Mika Zibanejad, who will miss the two-game trip with an upper body / neck injury. Zibanejad, who missed his eighth straight game, was back in New York skating on his own.
Flushing site for Rangers 5K
Kakko is scheduled to be among the Rangers personnel in attendance on Sunday at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens on Sunday for the fourth annual Rangers 5K.
Kakko is scheduled to be joined by current Ranger Libor Hajek and Rangers alumni Adam Graves, Mike Richter and Tom Laidlaw. Proceeds will benefit the Garden of Dreams Foundation and the Northwell Health Foundation.