Why Peter Laviolette scratched Will Cuylle from lineup in Rangers’ win

It’s once again that time of year when NHL coaches of contending teams have to make lineup decisions while considering both their player’s freshness and readiness for the playoffs.

Peter Laviolette’s decision to scratch Will Cuylle for Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win over the Panthers was not a matter of the 22-year-old’s health, but that the Rangers head coach wants all of his players to be in the mix before he officially designs his postseason lineup.

“Will is a rookie,” Laviolette said when asked for his reasoning behind scratching Cuylle. “Technically Jonny [Brodzinski’s] first year as a regular in the NHL and kind of that same way. [Matt Rempe] is a rookie. On defense, too, when our defensemen come back, we’re going to have to take a guy or two and have them not play that night. I wish I could play 13 forwards.

Will Cuylle, celebrating after scoring a goal against the Islanders in a recent game, was scratched from the Rangers’ win over the Panthers. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

“I thought a couple games ago, Will had a real strong game. And then three games ago, Jonny had a real strong game. Rempe comes in and provides different elements for our team. If I could dress all 13 of them, I would love to. It’s not about anything that any one of these players do if they come out. And generally speaking, not just those three, if it’s a defenseman or whatever it might be, I can only dress 12 and six.

“Communicated that to those players and just let them know that they’ve got to be patient. We’ve got a dozen games left. I hope we remain healthy. If we do remain healthy, I’m going to have to make those decisions. I just rather see everybody ready to play the playoffs.”

Brodzinski slotted back into the lineup Saturday after serving as a healthy scratch in Boston, where Rempe made his return from his four-game suspension.

The bottom-six appears to be where Laviolette wants to see more options, which is why Cuylle found himself as the odd man out.

The Rangers’ OG rookie of this season, however, has played in every other game up until this point. Laviolette has lauded Cuylle for his defensive responsibility and his mature play, despite it being his first full NHL season.

Expect to see Laviolette rotate through Brodzinski, Rempe and Cuylle, as well as any other regular skater who may need a breather before the playoffs.

Laviolette didn’t say much about any plans to rest regulars through the final stretch of the season.

“If anything comes into play, where somebody is questionable for a game down the road, I think that will be looked upon,” he said. “Guys that are healthy and play, they want to play. We’ll play the schedule hard to the end. But I do think we will not put anybody at risk.”

Ryan Lindgren, who fell awkwardly on his leg in a collision with the Islanders’ Jean-Gabriel Pageau just a week ago, already has resumed skating on his own, according to Laviolette.

The 26-year-old defenseman is expected to miss around 2-3 weeks, according to Laviolette, but his speedy return to the ice is a good sign.

Jacob Trouba is now two weeks into his 2-3 week recovery timeline with his own lower-body injury. The Rangers captain continues to skate on his own.

Erik Gustafsson absorbed a hard hit from Sam Reinhart in overtime and stayed down on the ice for a bit. He did not compete for the remainder of the extra period.

Laviolette said after the game that Gustafsson was being evaluated.

Source link