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Blais making season debut; Jones in for Hajek

Sammy Blais plays tonight against the Ducks

New York Rangers v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

The Libor Hajek experiment has once again been put on hold. Mollie Walker and others are reporting that defenseman Zac Jones will draw back into the lineup for tonight’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. More importantly, physical winger Sammy Blais will be making his 2022-23 season debut which was delayed by a preseason injury.

Blais, 26, played just 14 games with the Blueshirts last season as a result of injury. His return to the regular season lineup has long been anticipated by those who feel the Rangers are not as physical a hockey club as they should be. The former 6th round pick of the St. Louis Blues came over in a deal that sent Pavel Buchnevich to Missouri before last season.

In 14 regular season games with the Rangers, Blais has four assists and 17 PIM. Expect him to make his presence known by rattling the boards with some hits. He’ll be replacing Ryan Carpenter, who is out of the lineup after suffering a nasty cut from a skate to the side of his head — don’t go looking for the pictures of this, it’s not worth it.

We’re still waiting for the return of young winger Vitali Kravtsov, who was knocked out of the lineup in the first game of the season. So, we’re still waiting to see this group of skaters fully healthy.

The Rangers play Ryan Strome and the Ducks tonight at 7 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden.