GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Lias Andersson’s parents and younger brother are coming in from Sweden Friday to spend the Christmas holiday at the young Ranger’s bachelor pad.
“I guess I’ll take them around the city and have a Christmas lunch during this Swedish Christmas,’’ said Andersson, who said, no, a Swedish Christmas is not like everyone else’s Christmas. “It’s a lot different, foodwise, and stuff.’’
Whether Andersson would be in New York for Christmas was in some doubt, after he was scratched from the lineup Dec. 14 when the Rangers played the Arizona Coyotes. With the return of forwards Mats Zuccarello and Pavel Buchnevich from their respective groin and thumb injuries, someone was going to get bumped from the lineup, and coach David Quinn chose to scratch the 20-year-old Andersson (the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 draft) against the Coyotes.
The natural question at the time was whether it would be better for his development for him to stay with the Rangers as a spare forward, or to go to AHL Hartford, where he started the season, and where he could play on the first line every night.
The Rangers, though, made the decision to keep Andersson with the big club, even if it meant he would be in and out of the lineup for a while. Then they sent down veteran winger Matt Beleskey, leaving them with only 12 healthy forwards, and now, with the NHL’s Christmas roster freeze in effect as of Thursday, Andersson can rest easy knowing he’ll be with the Rangers at least until Dec. 28.
Andersson said he didn’t make too much of his being scratched for a game.
“I just try to do my thing,’’ he said. “Even if I get scratched or whatever, I just try to keep working, putting in a lot of extra work to get better.’’
For now, Andersson’s ice time will be limited, playing left wing on the fourth line, with Boo Nieves and Ryan Strome. In Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Anaheim, Andersson played just 6:09. But Quinn, who already has 19-year-old Filip Chytil and 20-year-old Brett Howden getting heavy minutes, said he is pleased with how Andersson is playing.
“I’m happy with his effort. I think he’s really trying to do the right thing,’’ Quinn said of Andersson. “I think he’s trying to be the player that he’s capable of being.’’
Notes & quotes: Cody McLeod, out since suffering a broken hand in a fight with the Islanders’ Ross Johnston, returned to practice, wearing the red, no-contact jersey… Kevin Hayes, who has played in the last two games, but has not practiced since crashing into the boards in the Arizona game, did not practice Thursday. But Quinn said he may return to practice on Friday… Asked if he planned on using both of his goalies in the back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday, Quinn smiled and said, “It’s on the table.’’