Forward Sammy Blais was scratched for the second straight game when the Rangers met the Panthers on Monday at Madison Square Garden, and from the way Gerard Gallant was talking after Sunday’s practice, it seems as if Blais might be a healthy scratch for an extended period.
“It’s been really hard,’’ Gallant said of Blais’ season. “There’s no doubt he had an extremely bad injury [a torn ACL], as we all know, last year and didn’t play at all. He comes back this year and things haven’t [gone] the way he wanted them, for us or for Sammy.’’
Blais was acquired from St. Louis for Pavel Buchnevich in the summer of 2021. Early on with the Rangers, he appeared on the verge of blossoming before he was injured against the Devils in November 2021.
He missed the rest of the season but was back in time for training camp. However, he has been unable to get back to the level at which he was playing before the injury.
Blais has no goals, five assists and eight penalty minutes in 38 games this season and no goals and nine assists in 52 games with the Rangers. Gallant isn’t giving up on him, though.
“In this game, things change in a hurry, as we all know,’’ he said. “We’re hoping for the best for him. Just keep working, stay with a positive attitude. And when you get back in, try and contribute. He’s got a good attitude and things haven’t gone his way.’’
Forward Julien Gauthier was activated off IR and entered the lineup after missing three games . . . D Libor Hajek was the other player scratched for the Rangers. He has been scratched for 17 straight games since Ben Harpur entered the lineup Dec. 15.