Update (8:35pm): Newsday’s Steve Zipay now adds that rookie RW Pavel Buchnevich will also miss tonight’s game with back spasms. The Rangers, with no spare forwards on the roster beyond Lindberg, will instead dress seven defenseman with Adam Clendening coming in. Buchnevich has four goals on the season, all coming during his current four-game goal scoring streak. Zipay also suggests the team could look to call a forward up from Hartford tomorrow – perhaps Cristoval Nieves, though that’s just my speculation – but that will likely depend on how long the team expects Kreider and Buchnevich to be out.
Chris Kreider, who returned earlier this month after missing four games with a neck problem, is being held out of the lineup tonight due to an undisclosed upper-body-issue, tweets Brett Cyrgalis. The power forward started the season on fire, tallying three goals and seven points in his first four games but has struggled somewhat since is return, failing to find the back of the net in any of his last seven and finding himself benched for parts of two recent contests. Still, Kreider is averaging a point-per-game on the season and is a valuable contributor when he is on his game.
Alain Vigneault was pushed for further details, but as Cyrgalis later tweeted, the coach was unable to do so. It’s uncertain whether this injury is in any way related to the neck spasms that forced him out of the lineup earlier this season. Kreider played 13:10 last night against Calgary, which is the lowest total he has seen in any game this year though he didn’t appear to have suffered any kind of injury either.
Cyrgalis has now added that Kreider is no longer in Edmonton, apparently elsewhere undergoing testing. As he tweets, that’s likely not good news for the Rangers.
In his place, Oscar Lindberg draws back into the lineup. Lindberg has seen action in just four games this season, missing the start of the campaign following hip surgery in the summer. He has failed to find the score sheet so far this season but had a solid rookie showing in 2015-16, registering 28 points with 13 goals in 73 contests. He’ll likely fill a spot on the fourth line with Michael Grabner moving up to take Kreider’s slot on the left wing of Derek Stepan and with Rick Nash on the right. Grabner leads the league in even-strength goals with eight on the young season.
The Rangers are off to a strong, 11 – 4 – 0 start largely as a result of their tremendous depth up front. With Kreider on the shelf again for an undetermined period of time, that depth may well be tested.