Defenseman Patrik Nemeth, who missed the final four games before the All-Star break because of a personal matter, was put back on the Rangers roster but did not dress for Tuesday’s game against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden.
Zac Jones took his spot in the lineup, playing on an all-rookie third defense pair with Braden Schneider
Nemeth, a 6-4, 230-pound veteran, practiced all four days after the Rangers returned from the break on Friday, and partnered with Schneider each of the last three. But the Rangers recalled Jones from AHL Hartford on Saturday, and at that point coach Gerard Gallant said he wasn’t certain whether the team would have Nemeth available Tuesday. On Monday, he still would n’t commit to having Nemeth available, but he noted the Swede “had four good days of practice. ”
Before the game, Gallant said it wasn’t the personal issue that was keeping Nemeth out of the lineup.
“We don’t think he’s ready yet,” the coach said. “We just want to give him some more days, more time.”
Nemeth, who turned 30 on Feb. 8, signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract with the Rangers over the summer as a free agent. He has played in 38 games, with no goals, two assists, 12 penalty minutes, and a minus-12 plus/minus rating.
Jones, 21, had played six games for the Rangers before Tuesday, with one assist and a minus-3 rating.
Gallant had been asked on Sunday if he would be comfortable playing two rookies together on the third pair.
“No issue,” he said. “I’ve got no issue with that. They’re both kids, they’re both rookies, but the way they’re playing, I’ve got no problem with that.”
Besides Nemeth, the Rangers’ other scratches were D Libor Hajek and C/LW Morgan Barron. . . Boston was without two-thirds of its “Perfection Line,” with captain Patrice Bergeron out with a head injury and LW Brad Marchand sitting out the third game of his six-game suspension for roughing Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry last week.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism