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With Wolski In The Mix, Is Christensen A Spare Part?

January 12, 2011, by

When the Rangers acquired Wojtek Wolski, they added to their forward depth that has been decimated by injuries. Kris Newbury, called up earlier this week in the wake of the Alex Frolov injury, will likely be returned to the CT Whale before the next game, leaving the Rangers with 12 healthy forwards. With Ryan Callahan and Vinny Prospal skating, and aiming for a return after the All-Star break, the Rangers are looking at a logjam of forwards.

Dale Weise will likely be returned to the AHL when Callahan comes back, giving the Rangers 12 healthy forwards that will be clicking. At that point the next person to return, likely to be Prospal, will force someone to the bench. If it is Prospal that returns, it’s tough to say who comes out of the lineup, but that’s a different story for a different post. If it is Christensen who returns first, what’s to say he goes directly back into the lineup?

This is not a Christensen hate post. This is simply a question of where he fits in after he returns from injury. He had been playing on the 4th line for some time now, and barely contributing offensively. Sure, he’s a shootout wizard, but there are 65 minutes of hockey to be played before the shootout. Mats Zuccarello-Aasen has proved he belongs in the NHL, so it does not look like he will be going anywhere soon. I personally do not see the coaching staff scratching anyone in the current lineup for Christensen. Christensen’s injury may have inadvertently ended his time with the Rangers.

Categories : Analysis


  1. RangerSmurf says:

    Disagree that MZA is definitely here to stay..Callahan’s return will likely force him down to the 4th line, and I don’t see that being an effective role for him.

    • Dave says:

      If Wolski doesn’t click or continues to have the Phoenix problems, then Wolski could be on the 4th line.

      • Jordan says:

        But you still have 11 forwards for 9 spots (assuming 3rd line stays intact), regardless of what line Wolski is on.

        • Dave says:

          Yes, but how can you justify taking someone like MZA, who has been very good, out of the lineup? It’s a dilemma really.

          • Jordan says:

            I agree with you. I think MZA should stay. But I just don’t see how it’s going to happen. I can’t see the team scratching Avery and Christensen and playing MZA on the 4th line.

            • JT says:

              I can see the team scratching EC, assuming he can even return to his pre-injury level of play. He hasn’t proven himself an impact player. MZA has. Hockey is entertainment and the popularity of MZA cannot have escaped Ranger management. He’s fun to watch. And regarding the shootout, not only is MZA great but so is Wolski! Good trade…

              • Jordan says:

                You replied to my comment but missed the point.

                Scratching Christensen brings MZA to the 4th line. He shouldn’t be playing 5 minutes a night. I don’t care if EC plays 5 min a night, he hasn’t earned more relative to the other players on the team.

                I’d also counter your entertainment point and say it’s more about winning. Professional hockey is a business. Winning has a strong correlation with revenue. Putting out the best product they know is what Rangers management cares about, not how popular a player is. A good example is Avery. He’s popular but he doesn’t play top minutes because people like seeing him pester the opposing team.

              • JT says:

                Actually, EC’s return will have little effect on MZA. It could send Steps to the fourth line (with Drury on the wing) or send Steps to the minors or send EC to another team. Assuming Wolski plays well, the real question is what happens when Cally returns. I could see Torts dropping Prust to the fourth line and replacing him with MZA. Prust has been amazing but he hasn’t generated a lot of offense. So yes, someone will be the odd-man out. I’m not sure it will be MZA because he’s proving himself an impact player, but ultimately you might be right. And then there’s Vinny…

    • Jordan says:

      I agree with this. Playing EC on the 4th line with 4th line minutes is more than acceptable. MZA shouldn’t be on with the Rangers if he’s going to play 5 minutes a night.

  2. Sally says:

    I agree that Callahan’s return will change every line except the Boyle, Prust line.

  3. George says:

    Avery has seemingly made himself all the more expendable by not contributing in any capacity. Wolski/Prospal/Gabby will hopefully be a formidable 1st line that can compete with the likes of the rest of the Atlantic and if room has to be made for Prospal I would suggest benching Avery. Christensen will eventually end up on waivers when this new direction gains traction.

  4. Vin says:

    How you can say Avery hasn’t contributed in ANY capacity when he’s 3rd on the team in assists while playing 5-10 minutes per night and no powerplay time? That only shows me he’s not getting enough playing time. This while Christensen keeps getting chance after chance to play with Gabby. When you put Avery with Gabby, what happens? Multiple point game vs. Isles and a goal against St. Louis the other day. He’s certainly not having his best season, but he’s also not being used in any specific capacity in a consistent manner. But to say he does nothing when his points are equal or higher to that of Frolov, Christensen and others while he gets WAY less time is somewhat ridiculous.

  5. Brian says:

    The benefit of EC is that he is a cheap, talented, and young option at center that can fill in on the top 2 lines in a pinch and has regular season value as a shootout specialist. The downside with EC is that at this time you cannot play him ahead of Stepan, AA, or Boyle and Drury is better suited than him as a 4th line center because of his PK value. He is a viable short term top six injury replacement but with he himself on the IR he becomes expendable. There is no way that he should get minutes over MZA, Avery or Fedotenko when he returns. Provided that we have a roster spot available for him it doesn’t hurt to keep him but IF Prospal returns he will spend the rest of the season in the pressbox.