Wednesday Morning: Updates on Kreider, Miller, and John Moore

Jim Cerny
BlueshirtsUnited.com

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As the Rangers prepared for tonight's showdown with the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden--one that may just be a playoff preview, and one that most definitely has playoff implications--the Rangers were dealt a major blow as it was announced that forward Chris Kreider will not be able to play in this game, and will miss the upcoming four-game road trip to Western Canada, due to a hand injury.

"We'll probably know here in the next couple of days what our course of action will be," head coach Alain Vigneault said, leaving open the possibility that Kreider may need surgery for the unspecified injury. "He got hurt in the Columbus game. There was very limited pain, but now we have to decide what to do."

Kreider, who has been a mainstay among the Rangers top-six forwards skating on a line with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash, is currently the fourth-leading scorer among all NHL rookies with 37 points. He has been particularly good against the Flyers, leading New York with four points in four previous games against Philadelphia.

"Chris brings a lot of speed to our game, going down that left side there, but we have guys that have to step up and have to bring that aspect to our game," explained Stepan, who also stated that he is feels "much better" after being slowed by the flu on Monday.

During Wednesday's morning skate Marty St. Louis took Kreider's spot alongside Stepan and Nash. St. Louis, who is still seeking his first goal as a Ranger since arriving in a trade from Tampa Bay, has also improved physically after dealing with the flu for a couple of days.

"I'm luck y enough to have played with Marty in the Spengler Cup, with Davos (in Switzerland), a couple of Olympics, so I can tell he's intense, loves the game, is passionate, and the biggest thing is he wants to win," Nash said of St. Louis. "When you get an older guy that comes in like that, it rubs off on the younger guys."

Though not happy Kreider is hurt, Stepan expressed some excitement at the prospects of playing on the same line with St. Louis tonight.

"Me and Nasher have played together all year long, and to have the chance to put a guy like Marty, insert him there, it's going to be pretty cool for me to get a chance to play with him and certainly hope to build some chemistry," said Stepan, who has 15 points in his last 14 games.

To take Kreider's spot in the lineup, the Rangers recalled forward J.T. Miller from Hartford on Wednesday morning. Though he did not make it the The Garden in time to take part in the morning skate, he will play tonight, most likely on a line with Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello.

In 35 games with the Wolf Pack, Miller has 37 points, and is Hartford's second leading scorer despite playing only half the season with the Rangers AHL affiliate. In nine games since returning to Hartford on March 5th, Miller had 11 points in nine contests.

With the Rangers this season Miller has three goals, three assists, and six points in 28 games played. In his most recent game with the Blueshirts he scored a goal against the Boston Bruins on March 2nd. 

"We are real happy with his progression," Vigneault said of Miller's play. "He is learning to be dependable, and has played real well offensively."

Daniel Carcillo is the latest Ranger to be felled by the flu. He did not skate Wednesday and will not play against his former team. Derek Dorsett, who had a strong game in Monday's win over Phoenix, remains in the lineup.

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While the Kreider news was not good, the Rangers did receive some positive news when John Moore took part in the morning skate. Though he will miss his third straight game tonight due to concussion symptoms, it was a good sign that Moore was given clearance to skate for the first time since sustaining his injury last Friday.

"Originally all of your thoughts are about hockey and getting back as soon as you can, but then you take a step back," shared Moore after the skate. "These injuries are vicious. You're sitting in a dark room, your head is killing you, it makes you think about things other than hockey. I am very fortunate that this wasn't a very serious one, and I'm happy and glad to be back, that's for sure."

Moore will accompany the team on its trip to Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Denver which starts tomorrow. There is not timetable yet for when he might be able to play.