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Defenseman Diaz to make debut for Rangers

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- Defenseman Raphael Diaz will make his debut with the New York Rangers on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. Diaz is replacing John Moore, who coach Alain Vigneault said is day-to-day with concussion symptoms stemming from a hit he took during New York's 3-1 win Friday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In addition, Vigneault said forward Derek Dorsett has the stomach flu and isn't available. Daniel Carcillo will replace Dorsett on the fourth line after sitting out the game in Columbus.

Vigneault said two other unnamed players are dealing with minor injuries, but they will skate in warmups and be game-time decisions. Defenseman Justin Falk and rookie forward Ryan Haggerty are available to play if necessary.

The Rangers are third in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points, two more than the fourth-place Blue Jackets and three more than the fifth-place Washington Capitals.

Diaz came to the Rangers in a trade from the Vancouver Canucks on March 5 but has been a healthy scratch for the past nine games. Before the trade, he had 13 points in 52 combined games between the Montreal Canadiens and Canucks. Diaz played 46 games for the Canadiens before being traded to the Canucks in early February.

"The information we got from Montreal and Vancouver was that he was a safe, effective defensemen that could make a good first pass and that could help out on the power play," Vigneault said.

Vigneault said Diaz will get time on the power play, but his challenge will be playing the left side for the first time.

Diaz is a right-handed defenseman and isn't accustomed to playing the left side, but Vigneault said skilled blueliners typically have an easier time with the transition to their off side. He cited Ryan McDonagh's performance opposite Ryan Suter for the United States in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

McDonagh, a lefty who plays his natural side for the Rangers, moved to the right side to play with Suter and flourished.

"A skilled player can play both sides, and Diaz is supposed to be a skilled player," Vigneault said. "We'll see what he can do."

Henrik Lundqvist will start for the second straight night and fifth straight game. The Rangers are in the middle of a series of three games in four nights, with a game coming Monday against the Phoenix Coyotes at Madison Square Garden. But Vigneault seems content with riding Lundqvist because points are at a premium in the race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Yes, [backup goaltender] Cam [Talbot] has played real well for us, but Hank's our guy," Vigneault said. "Everybody is winning right now, and if we're going to get in it's because Hank plays like Hank."

Here is the Rangers projected lineup:

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash

Mats Zuccarello - Derick Brassard - Martin St. Louis

Benoit Pouliot - Brad Richards - Carl Hagelin

Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Daniel Carcillo

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

Raphael Diaz - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Injured: John Moore (concussion), Derek Dorsett (flu)

Scratched: Ryan Haggerty, Justin Falk


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