Rangers-John Moore: After sitting out the past six games recovering from concussion symptoms, John Moore is expected to return to the Rangers lineup on Thursday night, and the timing of that could not be much better considering the injury suffered by Ryan McDonagh on Tuesday night in Vancouver. For however long McDonagh is out Moore will be one of two lefthanded shooting defensemen among the Rangers Top Six, a fact that may get him elevated into a Top Four pairing with Anton Stralman as Marc Staal will slide up to assume McDonagh's regular spot alongside Dan Girardi. It would seem that there will be little easing back into the lineup for Moore then, as he may see increased minutes that could include time on the power play. It has been a season of ups and downs for Moore, who has been primarily a third-pair defenseman that has appeared in 69 games and scored three goals while totaling 13 points and posting a solid +6 plus/minus rating. It will be very interesting to see how much and in what roles Alain Vigneault uses Moore in his return on Thursday, and if he holds him back at all considering the type injury he is coming back from. Bottom line for Moore is that the Rangers need him to step up his play no matter how many minutes he plays while McDonagh is out.
Avalanche-Paul Stastny: There is much speculation that Paul Stastny, a career-long Colorado Avalanche, may be in the final weeks and months of his tenure in the Mile High City. An unrestricted free agent this summer, Stastny will be one of the more attractive names on the market. Just 28 years old, Stastny is a six-time 20-goal scorer, two-time U.S. Olympian, and has scored 71 or more points three times since entering the league in 2006-07. Since 2010-11, however, Stastny has been more in the 50-55 point per season range, exactly where he resides this year with 53 points in 64 games. The question his suitors will have to weigh is whether or not Stastny is a No. 1 centerman or a very solid two-way No. 2? Nonetheless Stastny's importance to the Avalanche is even greater at present with fellow center Matt Duchene injured and out of the lineup, meaning the Rangers will most definitely be keying on slowing him down Thursday night. Stastny enters play on a four-game point-scoring streak (1-4-5), and he has 13 points in 12 games since participating in the Sochi Olympics.