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Rangers coach David Quinn decides to sit Lias Andersson

With Brett Howden apparently ready to move back to his No. 3 center spot, Quinn decided to scratch Andersson rather than drop him down to the fourth line.

Rangers center Lias Andersson skates against the Wild

Rangers center Lias Andersson skates against the Wild at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 21. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

DALLAS — After playing six straight games since his latest return from AHL Hartford, Lias Andersson found himself out of the lineup against the Stars, but coach David Quinn insisted it wasn’t because the 20-year-old has been a disappointment.

“I really like what I’ve seen,’’ Quinn said when asked about Andersson’s development this season. “I know he’s sitting out. ‘Well, if you really like it, why are you sitting him?’ But one of the things that I think he is, is he’s in a completely different mindset. We had a great conversation today. He fully understands why he’s not playing tonight.

“He’s made a lot of progress,’’ Quinn said. “He’s a much better player today than he was two-and-a-half months ago. Give him a lot of credit for making the adjustments he made; they’ve done a great job with him down in Hartford. And you’re going to see a lot of Lias between now and the time our season ends. If I thought this was going to hurt his development, he’d be in the lineup.’’

Andersson was the first of two first-round picks in 2017 (Filip Chytil was the other) and he has shown flashes at times, but hasn’t been able to hold down a spot in the lineup. He was called up Feb. 21 and played that night as the Rangers sat out forwards Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes before trading them. But with Brett Howden apparently ready to move back to his No. 3 center spot, Quinn decided to scratch Andersson rather than drop him down to the fourth line. Boo Nieves, who was scratched Sunday, re-entered the lineup to center the fourth line, between Brendan Smith and Brendan Lemieux.

Notes & quotes: Forward Connor Brickley and defenseman Freddie Claesson were the other two scratches . . . The Rangers were scheduled to stay over after the game and practice in Dallas Wednesday before flying to Detroit for Thursday’s game against the Red Wings.

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