After New York Rangers Head Coach Gerard Gallant told the media yesterday that forwards Barclay Goodrow and Sammy Blais could return to the lineup soon, but not for Game Six against the Carolina Hurricanes, it appears that Goodrow will be making his return to the Rangers lineup tonight (link). Goodrow took warmups in between wingers Tyler Motte and Ryan Reaves for the Rangers tonight in lieu of a noticeably absent Kevin Rooney. As TSN’s Ray Ferraro points out, the Rangers have just 18 skaters on the ice for warmups, meaning that Goodrow is not out there for a test run or a game-time decision. Goodrow last played in Game One of the first round when he suffered a lower-body injury.
The Rangers signed Goodrow this past offseason to a six-year, $21.85MM contract as part of their push to make their team grittier and tougher to play against. As much as he has helped the team in that effort, along with players like Blais and Ryan Reaves, the organization also brought in Goodrow for another reason: his playoff experience and Stanley Cup pedigree, winning the previous two Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The veteran forward was brought in to help the Rangers be confident and succeed in exactly the type of game he finds himself returning in, that being Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals with the Rangers on the brink of elimination.
Thus far, Goodrow has lived up to the billing, notching 13 goals to go with 20 assists on top of a plus-13 rating in 79 games this season for the Rangers. While he only has 12 points in 43 postseason games for the Tampa Bay Lightning (14 points in 66 playoff games overall), Goodrow was a key component of the team that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in Tampa, demonstrating the poise needed of players in those situations. If the Rangers are able to win tonight, and any further in this year’s playoffs, or down the road, one could expect Goodrow to have a lot to do with that success.