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Rangers again tinkering with lines, defensive pairings; Stepan getting closer

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Two Rangers game this season are never the same, in that not a line combination or defensive pairing generally stays intact.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers were back on the ice Wednesday, as the team is still in the middle of this stretch of infrequent games. In total, the Rangers only play four times over the course of two calendar weeks, really a blessing considering some of the injuries and forthcoming suspension many are waiting for.

Speaking of that, John Moore's hearing is scheduled for today at 3 p.m. EST. We're awaiting more details, including what if any supplemental discipline the Department of Player Safety decides upon.

What we know right now though, as far as how Moore's situation will effect potential Rangers moves is, for the time being, it won't. That's at least according to Alain Vigneault, who, without at least knowing the number of games Moore is getting suspended, said the team will forge ahead with the group of defensemen it has.

So yes, that would appear to mean Michael Kostka will be a go Saturday against the Jets, again, unless Moore's suspension forces the Rangers hand into making another call-up.

We got a glimpse into how the might shuffle the Rangers defensive pairings (yet again), and also Vigneault's newest forward lines as the team took the ice on Wednesday.

For those of you unfamiliar with jersey numbers, here's a translated version of that depth chart:

Mats ZuccarelloDerick BrassardRick Nash

Chris KreiderMartin St. LouisAnthony Duclair

Carl HagelinDominic MooreLee Stempniak

Tanner GlassKevin HayesChris Mueller

Ryan McDonaghMarc Staal

Dan GirardiKevin Klein

Matt Hunwick — Michael Kostka

Again, this is what everything looks like on Wednesday afternoon, pre-Moore suspension, and with two more days separating the Rangers and their next game. Then, things really get interesting, because...

Derek Stepan coming closer to return

If you've correctly labeled your calendar, you'll know that Derek Stepan is eligible to return from long-term injured reserve after this Saturday's game against the Jets, the 10th Stepan will have missed. Vigneault also addressed the situation surrounding his injured center on Wednesday.

As far as a timetable, it's still tough to really pin down a date for Stepan's regular season debut, especially considering he hasn't participated in a full practice. After the Rangers play the Jets, beginning the following Monday, they'll play four games in seven days.

In trying to gage where exactly Stepan is in terms of his recovery, there's a pertinent section to the CBA that references player's practice participation and LTIR.

Players on the Injured Reserve List may attend team meetings, travel with the Club (at the Club's option) and participate in practice sessions with other Players on the Club's Active Roster.

So if Stepan was healthy enough, he'd already be practicing. Kind of difficult to envision him playing in that first eligible return date this Monday against St. Louis. But who knows.

Again, as soon as we have the info about Moore's suspension, we'll be updating.