New York Rangers prepare for Barclay Goodrow’s extended absence
TARRYTOWN — The most stunning part of Barclay Goodrow’s lower body injury — believed to be a fractured left ankle, two people with knowledge of the situation told lohud.com, part of the USA TODAY Network — is that he played about four periods on it.
The injury is believed to have occurred as he extended his leg to block a shot by Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson at 3:39 of the second period in Game 1 of the New Rangers first-round playoff series. York on Tuesday, with the 29-year-old striker working his way through 20 more shifts afterwards.
It speaks to Goodrow’s tenacity and commitment to winning, which is precisely why team president Chris Drury made his acquisition one of his top priorities during the offseason last summer.
“You know what he brings to our team,” head coach Gerard Gallant said after Friday’s optional practice at the MSG Training Center. “He will be missed in all of those places. He can play anywhere, any position, and he’s a character guy – a leader.”
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A two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Goodrow was supposed to be one of the players Gallant could count on come playoff time. He’s a full-face forechecker, solid defender and go-to penalty killer, with the ability to make faceoffs and play all three forward positions.
But now he will run out of time. Rangers call him week to week, with Gallant admitting on Friday that his return “probably won’t be in this series. I don’t see that.”
“He’s obviously a great player for us and we’ll miss him, but we like the depth of our team,” said defender Jacob Trouba. “It’s not like he’s gone. He’s here today. He’s still here. He’s a big part of what we do and his attitude – his energy – is still around the rink. .. Obviously he’s disappointed right now, but he still has a smile on his face and chatting with everyone and helping the guys where he can.”
Tyler Motte is progressing
Dryden Hunt was Goodrow’s obvious replacement in Game 2 on Thursday, where Rangers took a 5-2 victory to tie the series at one game apiece.
The 26-year-old played 76 games during the regular season and brings similar hard work elements to the roster, giving Gallant and his teammates comfort that he can hold down the fort. But another option could enter the mix sooner rather than later.
Tyler Motte, who was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks at the trade deadline in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round pick, hasn’t played since April 7 due to an upper-body injury. But Gallant revealed on Friday that he started skating this week, which is his biggest sign of progress so far.
“He’s fine,” said the coach. “There is a chance for him in this series.”
Motte doesn’t bring the same positional versatility as Goodrow, but he’s a faster skater who’s also a relentless forechecker and capable penalty killer. He would likely replace Hunt (or Ryan Reaves) on the fourth line whenever he was available.
Justin Braun steps in
Defender Justin Braun is another trade deadline acquisition who hasn’t played much for Rangers, but for different reasons.
The 35-year-old was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick, but has only appeared in eight of the final 19 regular-season games due to managerial decisions. Gallant generally favored Patrik Nemeth and rookie Braden Schneider for his bottom pair, which was the Game 1 arrangement against the Penguins.
But with front-four defender Ryan Lindgren unable to play in Game 2 due to a lower-body injury, the value of the trade for Braun became more evident. Gallant was able to squeeze in a dependable veteran with 100 career playoff games on his resume, rather than being forced to turn to underused Libor Hájek or an inexperienced AHL callup.
“He plays his (left) offside and that’s a bit harder to do, obviously. But he played well,” Gallant said of Braun. “He’s going in there and he’s an experienced guy. That’s why you’re making these trades at the trade deadline. I think we’ve done a really good job adding guys.”
Gallant said Lindgren will be a game time decision for Game 3, which is played at 7 p.m. Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Penguins take down another Guardian
The Penguins are in an even worse situation with injuries than the Rangers.
Starting goaltender Tristan Jarry has been on injured reserve since April 14 with a broken foot and the team announced on Friday that replacement Casey DeSmith has undergone core muscle surgery, putting him on the shelf for the rest of the playoffs.
That leaves third tailpiece Louis Domingue as the de facto starter, at least until Jarry is ready to return. The latter did not practice with the team on Friday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Domingue has played admirably in two appearances so far in the series, stopping 52 of 57 shots he has faced for a .912 save percentage. But the Pens forced to rely on a 30-year-old mate should only increase Rangers’ chances of advancement.
Vincent Z. Mercogliano is the New York Rangers reporter for the USA TODAY Network. Learn more about his work at lohud.com/sports/rangers/ and follow him on Twitter @vzmercogliano.