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Moore expected to return for Rangers in Game 2

by Dan Rosen

LOS ANGELES -- It didn't require much detective work Friday to figure out that defenseman John Moore will be back in the New York Rangers' lineup for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at Staples Center (7 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

Moore missed New York's past two games, including a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1 of this best-of-7 series, while sitting out a suspension issued by the NHL. He was back skating on the Rangers' third defense pair with Kevin Klein in practice Friday.

Neither coach Alain Vigneault nor Moore officially said the 23-year-old would play Saturday, but all indications are he will replace Raphael Diaz.

"Like I've told you all along, I'm not going to discuss [the] lineup," Vigneault said. "You watched practice [Friday], so ..."

Moore was suspended for an illegal check to the head of Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. Moore has expressed regret for his hit, which left Weise with a concussion, but said he doesn't think it should change the perception of him as a player or how he'll react when he gets back on the ice.

"You hear about that a lot with suspensions, but I really don't think it's my game to be a reckless player out there," he said. "I certainly don't see it affecting my game too much going forward."

Moore is a skater and puck-mover who joins the rush when he can and plays on the Rangers' second power-play unit. The Rangers need him to excel in those areas, not seek hits like the one on Weise, which occurred with New York chasing the Canadiens, down 6-4, with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third period of Game 5.

"I think just his skating ability is what separates him from a lot of guys," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "He likes to join the rush. He doesn't play a lot of minutes, so when he gets an opportunity he's jumping and trying to create. He has a big shot on the power play too. It's tough to get pucks down to the net against these penalty killers so that will be helpful. He's strong around the net and he's pretty physical too, as we saw. There's a lot of areas he helps us."

Moore said it was tough to watch two games and thanked his teammates for winning the series against Montreal to give him a chance to play more hockey this season. This will be his first appearance in a Stanley Cup Final.

"I was just hoping I could get a chance," Moore said. "Stanley Cup Final, it doesn't get any bigger than that. To not be out there [in Game 1] and to watch from the stands, it was a tough pill to swallow, but you make your bed, you've got to sleep in it. That's how suspensions are."


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