The New York Rangers announced on Saturday morning that head coach Gerard Gallant has cleared the COVID-19 protocol, along with assistant coach Mike Kelly, and forwards Julien Gauthier and Ryan Reaves. That’s the good news. The bad news is that assistant coach Gord Murphy has entered the protocol.
UPDATE: Gerard Gallant, Mike Kelly, Julien Gauthier and Ryan Reaves have cleared Covid protocol. Gord Murphy has entered Covid protocol. Kris Knoblauch has reassumed head coaching duties in Hartford.— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 15, 2022
Kris Knoblauch will return to AHL Hartford after serving as the Rangers’ head coach for the past two games — a 3-1 loss to the Kings in Los Angeles, and a 3-0 win in San Jose against the Sharks. This indicates that Gallant will be able to quickly resume his head coaching duties with tonight’s game against in against the Flyers in Philadelphia.
It remains to be seen if one or both of Gauthier and Reaves will draw into the lineup tonight, but given the patchwork lineups the Rangers have had to deploy lately, one would presume that to be the case as long as they are feeling fully healthy and ready.
As the 7:00 PM EST puck drop draws closer, it will be interesting to see how exactly the Rangers’ lineup looks. Two of Anthony Greco, Tim Gettinger, Morgan Barron, and Jonny Brodzinski figure to come out of the lineup with Gauthier and Reaves likely coming back in. Greco played well in limited ice time during his Rangers debut in San Jose Thursday night, but there is a good chance he will sit, as the coaching staff seems to value the experience of other players more at this stage. Gettinger might be the other odd man out, with Barron holding the fourth-line center position, but we’ll know more in a matter of hours.
Barclay Goodrow and Alexis Lafrenière remain in COVID-19 protocol, so between that and now Murphy not being able to serve as an assistant coach for the time being, the Rangers are still not quite at full strength, but getting closer. Of course, every day seems to bring more pandemic-related news, so the Rangers remain on a roller coaster like every other NHL team.
UPDATE: Greco will indeed be one of the odd men out, as the Rangers have assigned him back to the taxi squad. In addition, morning practice lines indicate that Gettinger will stay in the lineup as the left wing on the fourth line, with Brodzinski coming out.
UPDATE: Anthony Greco has been assigned to the #NYR taxi squad.— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 15, 2022
#NYR lines:— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) January 15, 2022
Kreider - Zib - Kakko
Panarin - Strome - Chytil
McKegg - Rooney - Reaves
Gettinger - Barron - Gauthier
In addition, earlier Saturday morning, the Rangers also announced that goaltender Tyler Wall (who has a very fitting last name for a goalie) was recalled to the taxi squad, while Keith Kinkaid was moved from the taxi squad to AHL Hartford — likely because he was approaching the 20-day taxi squad limit.