ZUG, Switzerland --
Rangers coach John Tortorella said Saturday that he wants to keep only 13 forwards and the battle for the final roster spot was between Sean Avery
and Erik Christensen
. With two preseason games remaining before the final cut has to be made, most everyone made the assumption that both players would skate in both games so the coach could get a good look at them.
Well, Avery didn't play Sunday in Bratislava and he's not in the lineup today in Zug.
Why? Well, I won't get the chance to ask the coach until after the game, but I can figure only two things: Either Tortorella has seen enough of Avery, who injured his lip against Frolunda on Friday, and wanted to get a real good look at Christensen without having to worry about watching another player as closely, or Avery is on his way out.
I could be way off, but that's what I'm going with right now. I'll find out more from Tortorella after the game.
Christensen is in the lineup and will start centering the fourth line, between Brian Boyle
and Brandon Prust
. Boyle started Sunday's game as the first-line left wing, but has dropped to the fourth line to start this game. I still think Boyle is targeted to be the Rangers' fourth-line center, but Christensen also is a center and clearly Tortorella has to get one final look at him in a game.
is starting in net for the Rangers with Scott Stajcer
serving as his backup. Rangers goalie coach Benoit Allaire told me that dressing Henrik Lundqvist
today would be meaningless, and dressing four out of five nights also is difficult for a goalie, who even as a backup still has to prepare and mentally focus as if he is going to play.
EV Zug has some recognizable names, including goalie Jussi Markkanen
, who played 26 games for the Rangers in 2003-04, but is more known for his time in Edmonton. Markkanen is in his third year in Zug.
has played in 407 NHL games with seven teams, most recently the Canadiens from 2008-10. Josh Holden
played a combined 60 NHL games for the Canucks, Hurricanes and Maple Leafs, and Andy Wozniewski
played with the Leafs, Blues and Bruins, totaling 79 NHL games, from 2005-10.
One of the Zug beat writers told me to watch Damien Brunner, No. 96 in your program. The 25-year-old is the leading scorer in the Swiss league and many here believe he will compete for an NHL contract next season. The Wild were interested in him this season, but Brunner decided to stay in Switzerland because an injury kept him out of the World Championship, and presumably, cost him a chance at a better NHL contract.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl