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Morning Skate Report: Desharnais Out, Miller to Center

Skjei on SNL Skit With Chance the Rapper

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault confirmed David Desharnais would be a healthy scratch for the first time this season when the Rangers host the Ottawa Senators tonight at The Garden.

Paul Carey will rejoin the lineup, while J.T. Miller will slide from wing to center to replace Desharnais down the middle.

"I want to put JT in the middle tonight, so I decided to take Davey out," Vigneault said following the morning skate. "[Desharnais has] been working hard and he's been playing all right, but for tonight, I think that's the best way to go."

Desharnais, who signed as a free agent with New York this past July, has two goals and six assists in 20 games. While he praised his work ethic, Vigneault mentioned Desharnais has at times struggled against some opponents in the defensive zone.

"He's a hard-working young man that's got some offensive capabilities," Vigneault said of Desharnais. "He's not very big, so sometimes in the D zone he can get out-muscled a little bit in one-on-one situations. He's in good position and he's working hard, and that's what we expect from him. So far, we've gotten what we've expected."

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With Desharnais out and Miller shifting to center, Vigneault deployed new line combinations at the team's morning skate on Sunday.

Pavel Buchnevich was reunited with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider after the Russian was moved to a different line for the third period Friday in Columbus.

Jesper Fast was moved to a line with Kevin Hayes and Rick Nash, while Miller was between Michael Grabner and Mats Zuccarello. Boo Nieves centered Jimmy Vesey and Carey, while the defense remained the same from Friday's game.

Vigneault did state he was not "100 percent sure" these would be the lines for tonight's game against Ottawa.

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Brady Skjei may be a Broadway Blueshirt, but the young defenseman cracked through on the small screen Saturday night. 

Well, sort of.

Skjei was portrayed by Alex Moffat on last night's episode of Saturday Night Live, who was interviewed during a Rangers game by Chance the Rapper, who played a MSG Network reporter who knew little about the sport of hockey or the players he was covering, nor how to prounce No. 76's last name.

"I thought it was hilarious," the real Skjei told reporters before the Rangers host the Senators at The Garden. "I was watching with Kevin [Hayes] and we were sitting there and it was weird seeing your jersey on SNL."

Skjei praised both Moffat and Chance the Rapper, of whom he said he was a big fan of before inviting him to Sunday's game. 

Skjei's "debut" on TV led to dozens of messages from friends, family and fans. 

"That's the big time for sure," Skjei said with a laugh.

The 23-year-old said difficulty pronouncing his last name is something he's dealt with all his life.

"Everything you can think of I've heard of," Skjei said. "Growing up, starting lineups when I was a little kid. When dads on other teams were doing it. Hilarious. I've heard it all for sure." 

In the end, it all paid off.

"Exactly," he said. "I got the last laugh."

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