Sammy Blais injury status uncertain for Rangers opener
Sammy Blais, who suffered an upper body injury on Saturday in the Rangers’ final preseason game against the Islanders, did not participate in practice on Monday and is doubtful to play in the season opener against the Lightning Tuesday night.
It’s been a tough break for the 26-year-old winger, who played just 14 games last season for Rangers before suffering a torn ACL that sidelined him for most of the schedule. Rangers may want to place Blais on injured reserve, which would keep him out of the lineup for the first four games.
« It’s day to day after [the opener]said Rangers coach Gerard Gallant after training at the MSG Training Center on Monday. « It’s not so bad. »
Rangers may have lost a striker, but their defensive core is ready to go after a couple of minor injuries in the six exhibition games. Defenders Ryan Lindgren and Jacob Trouba have joined Rangers for training after suffering lower-body and upper-body injuries respectively. There was no doubt that these two would be ready for the first game of the season, but their attendance at training confirmed that they should be ready to go.
Lindgren lined up in his usual spot next to Adam Fox, while Trouba skated alongside his usual partner, K’Andre Miller. Zac Jones appears to be the first glimpse in the sixth defenseman role on the third pair alongside Braden Schneider, who he skated with in the final days of preseason.
Without Blais, who has spent time on the first and fourth lines this pre-season, Rangers’ next man will likely be Jimmy Vesey. After trading his pro tryout for a one-year contract worth $750,000, Vesey skated as part of a four-man unit – with Dryden Hunt, Ryan Carpenter and Ryan Reaves – on the fourth line in practice on Monday. One of those four, probably Hunt or Reaves, will have to be scratched for opening night.
While the top unit should be Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Kaapo Kakko, the third row should include Alexis Lafrenière, Filip Chytil and Barclay Goodrow. Chytil and Lafrenière also practiced on the second unit on the power play with Trouba, Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov, who was back on the second-line right wing alongside Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck on Monday.
Defender Matt Bartkowski has been released from his professional trial contract.
Defenseman Jarred Tinordi, who played just seven games for the Rangers last season, was waived and claimed by the Blackhawks on Monday. Winger Julien Gauthier cleared and was traded to AHL Hartford.