Rangers’ lineup competition intensifies with Vitali Kravtsov injury

Vitali Kravtsov skated Wednesday morning for the first time since suffering an unidentified lower body injury during the first period of Friday’s match in New Jersey. The winger, however, was not in the lineup for the rematch at the Garden.

But that, according to head coach Gerard Gallant, should not have a negative impact on No. 74’s chance to secure a spot on the opening roster. The Rangers have one more exhibition match after Wednesday night’s matchup with the Devils — Saturday in Bridgeport against the Islanders — remaining before the season begins on Oct. 13 in Washington.

“It’s not just from training camp,” Gallant said of the 21-year-old. “He’s been here for a while, the organization knows him real well. I don’t know him that well, but hopefully he’ll be able to get into the next game.”

Vitali Kravtsov on Sept. 24, 2019
Anthony J Causi

Kravtsov, the ninth-overall selection of the 2018 entry draft who played last season’s final 20 games, seemed to have first dibs on the spot at right wing on the third line with left winger Barclay Goodrow and center Filip Chytil. But Julien Gauthier has stepped in as an alternative and has looked good in his trial run.

“We’ve got to see…we’ll see where it goes,” Gallant said when asked if that spot is now up for grabs. “That’s what training camp is all about. “Gauthier has played well, he’s playing with those guys again [against the Devils]. He’s definitely had a good camp. We’ll take it one day at a time.”

Julien Gauthier battles for a puck against the Bruins in an Oct. 2, 2021 preseason game.
Julien Gauthier battles for a puck against the Bruins in an Oct. 2, 2021 preseason game.
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Other than Jarred Tinordi subbing in for Patrik Nemeth as the third-pair left defenseman, and Gauthier in rather than Kravtsov, the Rangers are going with the lineup that will likely face the Capitals next Wednesday.

And actually, if the Blueshirts opt to go with their brawniest lineup in Washington, Tinordi could get the assignment.

Nemeth, Zac Jones, Libor Hajek, Morgan Barron, Dryden Hunt and Kravtsov were the scratches against New Jersey. The Rangers have three cuts to make in order to get down to the 23-player roster max.

Igor Shesterkin is scheduled to go the distance against the Devils, with Alex Georgiev slated to play the full game on Saturday.

Shesterkin had allowed five goals on 32 shots in 61:42 for a 4.86 GAA and .844 save pct. Georgiev had surrendered six goals on 40 shots in 72:44 for a 4.95 GAA and .850 save pct.

That obviously won’t do.

Morgan Geertsen, the 26-year-old winger whom the Devils claimed off waivers from the Rangers on Sunday, is in the lineup for New Jersey.


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