With the news that Carl Hagelin is gone for the next three games, the Rangers have a few decisions they need to make regarding the lineup. The loss of Hagelin is a big loss, as the Rangers lose their fastest skater and a top six forward. That is not easily replaced in the lineup. Rookie Chris Kreider is the best option to fill in for Hagelin, as discussed earlier today, but the coaching staff may be hesitant to insert the rookie into the lineup so quickly.
The reasoning here is that Kreider may not be the best option for a series that has taken a dirty, physical, and nasty turn. Zenon Konopka, Chris Neil, and Matt Carkner have taken liberties with the Rangers, and there might be some retribution.
Since John Scott is likely not the answer the Rangers are looking for, that leaves another option that I mentioned on Twitter. When the club had a few injuries at forward, they left Stu Bickel in the lineup at forward on the fourth line, and inserted Steve Eminger into the lineup on defense. This is still an option for the Rangers, who may want to have some added toughness up front without losing much on defense.
Flexibility is nice, and it’s tough to really say there’s a right and wrong answer here for the Rangers. It really depends on what the coaching staff feels is a bigger need for Game Three. Do they need to replace the skill, or do they need the toughness? Personally, I would insert Kreider, but I don’t coach the team.