DETROIT — Mika Zibanejad’s father got the job of reading the Rangers’ starting lineup to the team in the locker room before they blew out the Detroit Red Wings, 8-2, on Thursday night in the opening game of the two-game Father’s Weekend trip. Then, with his dad watching, Zibanejad scored two goals in his 700th NHL game.
“He’s been watching a lot of games from the stands, obviously, been at games,’’ Zibanejad said of his father, Mehrdad. “But I think it’s just, it’s a different thing to have him, and all the dads, obviously, around us the whole time. They get to be a part of that, too, the schedule, and the way we travel, and what we do. And, you know, all the sacrifice he put in — obviously, the whole family — but him just driving me to practice and games and tournaments, and be able to pay him back somehow. And this was nice.’’
Seventeen fathers made the trip to Detroit and Nashville for the first parents weekend since the players’ mothers went to Chicago and Carolina in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
Vitali Kravtsov’s father did not make the trip because he could not get a visa to come over from Russia. Kravtsov said he is not jealous of his teammates whose fathers are here, though. “No, I’m just happy for everybody,’’ he said. “They meet their fathers and I call mine on FaceTime.’’
After the win, Gerard Gallant made a pitch to have the dads come to all the road games. “They had the pregame speech, and they announced the lineup, so we’ll do that all the time,’’ he said. “It might cost us a little more money traveling with them, but . . . ’’
Lindgren, Gauthier return
Defenseman Ryan Lindgren and forward Julien Gauthier returned to the lineup after missing two games and one game, respectively, with upper-body injuries. “It’s brutal. You never want to be out, you never want to be watching the game on TV,’’ Lindgren said. “And yeah, it stinks, but you know that you want to be healthy when you’re playing. And you know, it was nothing too crazy.’’
With Lindgren back, D Zac Jones was scratched, and with Gauthier in, C Ryan Carpenter was scratched. Forward Ryan Reaves was a healthy scratch for the third straight game.