NEWARK — With defenseman Marc Staal sidelined with a lower-body “tweak,” according to coach Alain Vigneault, Brady Skjei was summoned from the Hartford Wolf Pack and played 22:17, the most of his brief career and of any Rangers defenseman on Tuesday night.
It was the 21-year-old’s third NHL game, all on the road, and he had one shot and two hits. Skjei played 14:54 in his debut against Edmonton and 15:17 on Dec. 17 in Minnesota, and did not record a point.
“I thought he played all right. You can see that he can skate and he’s got a good skill level, unfortunately, as a team we didn’t play real well in front of him,” said Vigneault.
But with Staal and Ryan McDonagh (jaw) expected to accompany the team on the two-game trip to St. Louis and Dallas, Skjei was likely going to be returned to the minors.
Skjei, a first-round draft pick in 2012 (28th overall), has three goals and 22 points in his first full season in the AHL, including a goal and seven assists in his last 17 games.
Miller ejected over tape on wrist
J.T. Miller’s fight with Dmitri Kalinin that triggered an ejection for an equipment infraction, didn’t really annoy Vigneault. “It’s the call in the book, if you have tape above the wrist and the guy gets cut, it’s an automatic match penalty,” he said. “There’s a little difference of opinion between our medical staff and what the referees saw. It was part of the game, but the way we played in the second period was why we didn’t win.”
Raanta likely to get a start
With Western Conference teams on the docket, backup Antti Raanta, who made 35 saves in his last start in Toronto on Feb. 18, is expected to start one of the games, either against the Blues on Thursday or the Stars on Saturday.