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Rangers to face Ducks without Nash

by Curtis Zupke /

ANAHEIM -- Brad Richards stated the obvious when it comes to the state of the New York Rangers.

Coming off an ugly 9-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks, the Rangers will be without Rick Nash for at least Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks and reportedly Saturday as well.

"It's not ideal, that's for sure," Richards said. "That's about all I can really say. We want him back. We need him, but we don't have him. People got to step up and we've got to find another way to play that even more simple [game]. We can't dwell on it. We hope he's back as quick as possible, obviously.

"It looked like he was just getting his game together there against L.A. [on Monday]. He's pretty dominant when that happens. We want him back ASAP."

Nash took an elbow to the head Tuesday from San Jose's Brad Stuart, who was suspended three games, and has been sent back to New York. Coach Alain Vigneault adjusted by putting Richards back at center between Benoit Pouliot and Ryan Callahan on the top line.

Derek Stepan will center Taylor Pyatt and Jesper Fast while Derick Brassard was with Brian Boyle and Mats Zuccarello at the morning skate.

"We're losing one of our top players as far as skill level, so we felt tonight we needed to come in here, after watching Anaheim's last couple of games, and we felt we needed better balance, and we think that these four lines give us better balance," Vigneault said.

Vigneault indicated Richards will stay at the point on the power play, but he will have to change up the units without Nash. Vigneault also changed up his defensive pairings as he looks for a rebound from the San Jose loss in which rookie Tomas Hertl scored four goals.

"I believe that the team I saw in L.A. was the real Rangers," Vigneault said. "That one there had a real good bite to it and a lot of feistiness, and that's what I expect to see tonight."

The Rangers had a mandatory day off Wednesday. Several players went to a local mall and took in the movie "Rush." They were really more focused on getting back on the ice after losing the third game of a season-opening nine-game road trip.

"As a player, you want to get that bad taste out of your mouth as quick as you can and get that confidence back," Marc Staal said. "I think everyone's excited to get on the ice and put a better effort forward."

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