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Rangers to scratch Hayes against Lightning: report

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New York Rangers right wing Kevin Hayes will be a healthy scratch when the Rangers play the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

Hayes has six goals and 17 points in 37 games this season, after scoring 17 goals and 45 points in his first full NHL season.

"I think we all have our tipping points, and I think Kevin has had an extra-long leash, especially considering [Derek Stepan] was out for quite some time," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told the New York Post on Tuesday after practice in Nashville, where New York lost 5-3 to the Nashville Predators on Monday. "But there's just nothing going on. At the end of the day, we're at the point now where we have to make some decisions in the best interests of the team.

"When you go through a season, there are phases when you're trying to develop, you're trying to work, as you're trying to win; winning is obviously the final component to everything. But in those early on there, you're trying to figure out and find out about people. In Kevin's case, I think we made it clear our expectations about him and what we felt he could do were very high. Obviously, he hasn't lived up to that."

Hayes, 23, was selected No. 24 by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 NHL Draft, but did not sign with them, became a free agent, and signed with the Rangers.

"My game isn't nearly where I want it to be," Hayes told the New York Post. "Goals and aspirations coming into a season ... and I haven't even come close to mine. I'm struggling right now, so take it day by day, see how it goes."

The Rangers started 16-3-2 but are 4-10-2 in their past 16 games and are 12 points behind the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division.

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