Coach David Quinn stuck with the same lineup for the third straight game, which meant defenseman Marc Staal, an alternate captain and the team’s second-longest-tenured player, was a healthy scratch for the third straight game.
However, Quinn said at Monday’s morning skate that Staal, 32, will be returning to the lineup soon.
“He’s going to get in,’’ Quinn said. “We need him . . . Circumstances haven’t allowed him to get back in, [but] the plan wasn’t to have him sit three, that’s for sure. He’s going to get back in.’’
Staal, the Rangers’ first-round pick in 2005, was scratched for the first time in his career last Tuesday as Quinn inserted 21-year-old rookie Ryan Lindgren against Tampa Bay. Lindgren had an assist that night as the Rangers beat the Lightning, 4-1, and the Minnesota native played well in his first two games, posting a plus-2 rating in two wins.
With things going well, Quinn was asked why he would need to force Staal back in the lineup.
“Because he’s a good defenseman,’’ he said. “He’s a big piece of what we have here this year. You know, he’s a guy that’s influential in the locker room; he’s a good player. And, you know, the way things happened, he happened to be the guy that came out after the Bruins game [a 7-4 loss Oct. 27]. And we’re just in the situation. But we’re going to need him.’’
Notes & quotes: Greg McKegg was the other scratch . . . Not a fan of morning skates, Quinn admitted he had one Monday because the Rangers had won each of their last two games after having one. However, he said with a laugh, “We didn’t have one against Nashville, so we might need to throw that theory out the window.’’ The game against the Predators was an afternoon contest . . . The Rangers will hold an outdoor practice at Lasker Rink in Central Park at noon Saturday. It is open to the public . . . Before the game, a moment of silence was observed for former NHL vice president Jim Gregory and former Ranger Dean Prentice.