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Rangers re-load big guns on top line

by Dave Lozo

Mired in a three-game losing streak in which they have scored only two goals, the New York Rangers appear set to reunite their three biggest guns on one line Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

According to reporters in attendance in Greenburgh, N.Y., Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Rick Nash skated together on a line at practice. It was a common sight during the first two weeks of the season, but the unit eventually was broken up in an effort to give the team a more balanced look offensively.

Nash has been a consistent performer all season -- he has 9 goals and 23 points in 23 games -- but Richards and Gaborik have been mired in slumps since the season's early stages. Richards has two goals and six assists in his past 20 games, while Gaborik has three goals and six assists in his past 22 games, and just one goal in his past 14 games.

The 10th-place Rangers enter Monday's game three points behind the eighth-place Hurricanes, who did not have a morning skate due to construction taking place at Madison Square Garden.

Here's what the Rangers displayed in terms of lines and defense pairings at their practice, along with a guess at Carolina's lineup:


Rick Nash - Brad Richards - Marian Gaborik

Carl Hagelin - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan

J.T. Miller - Brian Boyle - Taylor Pyatt

Michael Haley - Jeff Halpern - Darroll Powe

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Roman Hamrlik - Anton Stralman

Michael Del Zotto - Steve Eminger

Henrik Lundqvist

Martin Biron

Scratched: Matt Gilroy, Stu Bickel

Injured: Arron Asham (back), Marc Staal (eye)


Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin

Jeff Skinner - Jordan Staal - Patrick Dwyer

Drayson Bowman - Riley Nash - Jussi Jokinen

Adam Hall - Tim Brent - Tim Wallace

Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk

Tim Gleason - Joe Corvo

Joni Pitkanen - Jamie McBain

Dan Ellis

Justin Peters

Scratched: Bobby Sanguinetti, Kevin Westgarth

Injured: Tuomo Ruutu (hip), Cam Ward (knee), Chad LaRose (concussion)

Note: Corvo left Carolina's previous game with a lower-body injury. If he is unable to play, it likely means Bobby Sanguinetti will replace him in the lineup. Sanguinetti was a first-round pick of the Rangers in the 2006 NHL Draft. Ellis and Peters have alternated the past four games, so it seems that this game would be Ellis' turn to play. Forward Tuomo Ruutu, who has been out all season recovering from hip surgery, is traveling with the team but is not expected to make his season debut Monday.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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