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Rangers Need To Be Patient With This Lineup

Assuming Brady Skjei is the callup the Rangers need to make sure they give him a chance.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Please note this article is written assuming Brady Skjei will be today's callup. The Rangers cannot officially bring him up until after Jarred Stoll clears waivers or is claimed (which removes his cap hit to make room for the move). So keep that in mind as you read on.

There were a lot of moving parts Monday afternoon, just 48 hours after a disaster of a Western road trip that saw the Rangers lose all three matchups (including one in overtime against Calgary). First, Stoll was waived to Hartford -- although the Rangers fully expect him to get claimed. That last part tells me the Rangers don't have any intent of actually bringing him up again (unlike Tanner Glass) and are ready to ease the logjam of forwards sitting in the system.

The bigger move, however, was the announcement that Dan Girardi would miss Tuesday's matchup with a "knee injury." I'm not putting quotations around knee injury because I don't believe Girardi is banged up. I'm sure he is. But I doubt the injury is any worse today than it was in Edmonton or Calgary (the media speculated it was due to a blocked shot in Vancouver). Perhaps this is a more gentle way for Alain Vigneault to sit the struggling (not slumping) defenseman.

In his place I'm assuming will be Skjei, the young defenseman who has shown impressive strides in Hartford both this year and during last year's playoffs. Skjei, another left handed shot, should easily be able to replicate the play Girardi has shown this year and should be an upgrade almost immediately.

Which is more or less my point: The Rangers need to let this lineup breath a little. The way it is.

Much like Ryan McDonagh when he was called up midway through his AHL season Skjei should not be here to be an injury band-aid. Skjei has already proven he can handle professional hockey, he might need some times to truly figure it out at the NHL level, but the Rangers are better off allowing him to do that now than continuing to deploy a player who simply isn't fitting into the team's mentality.

Girardi sitting allows McDonagh to slot up with Keith Yandle to make a true top pair or to move Dan Boyle up there to allow Yandle to slot up with Dylan McIlrath (I actually like the latter better simply for the Yandle-McIlrath pairing). This would allow Skjei to match up with Marc Staal. Staal has had his struggles as well, but he can still skate and should benefit from having a defensive partner who can both do the same thing and move the puck.

If things don't work out right away that's OK. Skjei should be expected to have a few struggles as he transitions to the speed of the NHL. But this move, in the long and potentially short run as well, is a good thing for the Rangers if they let it happen.

Regardless of how the game goes tonight Vigneault should give Skjei a few games to see how he transitions. Let Girardi rest up his knee and give the team a much-needed spark to help possession.

It might be a tough situation for him, but it's for the best. And that's all that really matters.