GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Rangers forwards Jesper Fast and Mats Zuccarello aren’t expected to play Tuesday when the Rangers visit the Devils in Newark, and Fast might be done for the rest of the season, coach Alain Vigneault said after practice Monday.
“He’s got a bad groin here and probably won’t be available for the rest of the year,’’ Vig neault said of Fast, who has played well as the right wing on the top line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. “I know he’s going to try real hard to come back, but I would not count on it. And [Zuccarello]’s getting an MRI done this afternoon. He blocked a couple of shots during the last couple of games and he’s having a tough time walking right now.’’
The Rangers are carrying three extra forwards. David Desharnais, who missed Saturday’s game with a sore wrist, practiced Monday and likely will step into the lineup against the Devils if Fast can’t go. If Zuccarello is out, Cody McLeod or Peter Holland, who were healthy scratches Saturday, will step in for him.
Because Fast and Zuccarello are right wings, there will have to be some line-juggling, with center Vladislav Namestnikov a likely candidate to move to wing. And because both play on the penalty kill and Zuccarello sees time on the power play, perhaps their absences will prompt Vigneault to give teenagers Filip Chytil, 18, and Lias Andersson, 19, a look on special teams.
In practice Monday, Andersson, the team’s first first-round pick last summer (No. 7 overall) was working on the penalty kill. Chytil (No. 21 overall) got some work on the power play.
Chytil, who scored his first NHL goal in Friday’s loss to Tampa Bay, had two breakaways in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Carolina but twice was denied by the left pad of Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward. Andersson, who centered the fourth line, was on the ice when Carolina pulled the goalie with more than 2 1⁄2 minutes left in the game. He iced the puck but won the ensuing faceoff, and the Rangers eventually were able to get the puck covered and get fresh troops on the ice.
Both teenagers impressed Vig neault. “Filip had some good looks,’’ he said after the game. “That speed is evident. I thought Lias competed real hard. With a little bit more than three minutes his line was on the ice, they battled real hard. He pulled his goalie real early, almost, close to three minutes left — a lot of teams don’t usually do that. Lias’ line was out there and they did a good job for us.’’