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Rangers Practice Report: Nash injury presents opportunity for Etem

Bobby Bevilacqua

emerson etem full body 10-25

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers practiced in Denver today ahead of Friday’s contest against the Colorado Avalanche, the first game of a brief two game road trip. After playing the Avalanche on Friday, the Rangers will travel to Arizona for a game on Saturday.

However, Rick Nash’s availability is in question for tomorrow night after sustaining a slight injury in practice. Nash twisted his back and had to leave the ice. Emerson Etem skated on the line with Derick Brassard and Mats Zucccarello for the remainder of practice.

“I felt good there for the first three drills, then it twisted kind of the wrong way when I took a shot and it kind of went out on me,” Nash told Jim Cerny of Blueshirts United following practice. He then said that he “just couldn’t move” and spent the rest of the practice getting treatment.

“We’ll see how I feel in the morning,” said Nash. “We need to go back and do more treatment, hopefully get it moving and loosened up.”

Nash is now listed as day-to-day. This is similar to an injury he sustained last season that kept him sidelined for three days.

If Nash is unavailable to play on Friday, it presents a massive opportunity for Emerson Etem. He has played three games this season, impressing the coaching staff and picking up an assist while playing on the fourth line.

Etem was drafted to be an offensive player, not a gritty bottom six forward. While in Juniors, Etem had seasons with 61, 45 and 37 goals with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. He’s got the scoring instinct, good hands and skillset to be a goal scorer in the NHL.

“In Junior (Etem) was a real skilled offensive player …and probably when he came into the league he was pegged to be more of an offensive player,” Vigneault told Cerny after practice. “So when you want a player to succeed you have to put them in roles where they can succeed; and (a top six role) might be a better-suited place for him.”

“You don’t want to see a guy go down, especially one with the all-around capability of Rick Nash,” said Etem. “I felt good on the line with Brass and Zucc there; and whatever the case is I continue to prepare myself as if I am going to play the next game.”

Etem would also be paired with two of the hottest Rangers as of late, and the two leading scorers on the team. Zuccarello has four points (3-1-4) in the last two games, and seven points (3-4-7) in the last five. Brassard’s production has exploded, tallying seven points (3-4-7) in the last four games. Etem would get more ice time and would get some more offensive chances.

These were the lines and defensive pairings at practice;

Emerson Etem-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-JT Miller

Oscar Lindberg-Kevin Hayes-Viktor Stalberg

Jarret Stoll-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Kevin Klein

Keith Yandle-Dan Boyle

JT Miller gets another crack at a top six role. Miller fit in well there towards the end of last season, and in the playoffs, so he might be able to utilize his skills to help get Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan producing again.

I’m not thrilled about Dan Girardi being paired with McDonagh again, because Girardi holds him back. McDonagh-Klein played extremely well together, and Klein is one of the best possession players on the team so far.

The power play pairings during practice looked like this;

Kreider-Stepan-Zuccarello-Brassard-McDonagh

Lindberg-Hayes-Miller-Yandle-Klein

This really doesn’t make any sense to me. Kreider and Stepan should not be on the first unit. Stepan hesitates to shoot, and Kreider isn’t playing all that well right now.

I don’t understand why Vigneault has Yandle on the second power play unit. Quarterbacking the man advantage has always been his break and butter, so let him run it! Put him out on the ice for 1:30 of the power play like Montreal does with Subban.

Tomorrow’s game starts at 9:00 PM. Check back here for any updates, and follow me on Twitter @The_RangerZone for live updates and news.

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Posted on November 6, 2015, in Rangers Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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