According to head coach Gerard Gallant, Ryan Reaves’ projected ability for the Oct. 13 opener in Washington “is going to be close” following the left leg injury No. 75 sustained after that awkward dance in the corner with P.K. Subban midway through the first period of Wednesday’s tilt against the Devils.
“When he left the game I said, “No,’ but the last couple days it’s going in the right direction,” the coach said following Friday’s practice. “I can’t really say, but I think it’s going to be real close.”
The Rangers did a fair amount of mixing of their combinations Friday with Morgan Barron and Dryden Hunt flanking Kevin Rooney while Filip Chytil skated between Sammy Blais and Julien Gauthier as bottom-six units. (Mika Zibanejad had Alexis Lafreniere and Vitali Kravtsov as his wings while Ryan Strome skated between Barclay Goodrow and Kaapo Kakko while Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider rotated through the line drills.)
The Blueshirts, currently carrying 15 forwards and eight defensemen, need to cut the roster by two by Monday’s 5 PM deadline. If Reaves is placed on IR, the club could keep an extra forward but that would mean the enforcer would be ineligible to play in the first four games.
The Blueshirts have been expected to name a team captain prior to the opener, but Gallant wasn’t exactly declarative in addressing the subject. A possibility thus seems to exist that the club might go without one for the fourth straight season.
“I’m still discussing it with Chris, we’ve been talking about it quite a bit in the last couple of weeks,” Gallant said while referring to general manager Chris Drury. “I’ve talked about it quite a bit where I came from different teams and it’s more important to me that the 23 guys are a big part of our group. That’s the most important thing.
“We’re going to make a decision soon, and we’ll decide what we’re going to do, but the biggest thing for me is that I need 23 guys to be leaders.”
Alex Georgiev, who is scheduled to go the distance against the Islanders in Bridgeport on Saturday in the Blueshirts’ final exhibition match, said that he got back onto the ice earlier than usual this offseason following last year’s unique and disappointing season.
“I don’t want to go back to last season. It was tough, it was no fun,” said the Bulgarian-born 25-year-old netminder who never gained traction, started only 18 of the 56 games and who actually was surpassed for a time on the depth chart by Keith Kinkaid. “I’m super-excited for the new one.
“I want to make a step forward. It’s super, super fun to be back for a full season with a lot of fans.”
Georgiev, who went 8-7-2 with a 2.71 GAA and .905 save pct while ranking relatively low in expected saves and expected goals against analytical categories, was the subject of much trade speculation over the offseason. He said that reports that he had asked to be traded were not true.
“The rumors were false, I don’t know where that came from,” the goaltender said. “You can be dealt pretty much as a player without a no-move clause, so I just worked as usual and tried not to think about it.”
Georgiev is expected to serve as Igor Shesterkin’s understudy, though it’s unknown what the club’s ideal game breakdown would be for their goaltenders. Shesterkin, who is entering his first, full NHL season has never played more than 43 games in a season throughout his career that began in Russia.
“I just take it one day at a time,” said Georgiev, who added that he thinks labeling goaltenders as No. 1 or No. 2 is overemphasized. “I work hard, I’m excited for the season and I want to play as much as possible.
“I can play as much as possible, but I focus on myself and let the coaches decide what’s best for the team.”
Gallant confirmed the obvious: Zac Jones was sent to the AHL Wolf Pack on Thursday through no fault of his own.
“Jonesy did nothing wrong,” the coach said. “Everything Jonesy did at camp was excellent, he keeps going in the right direction, but it’s all about numbers and how many you can keep.
“He’s a young player, we like him a lot and he’s going to be in New York a lot. But with the depth we have on the blue line we had to make some tough decisions and that was a tough one.”
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