Artem Anisimov, out with a shoulder injury since March 15th, is healthy and back in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. Of course, to make room for Anisimov someone has to be sacrificed, and for at least tonight Ruslan Fedotenko seems to be the odd-man out.
The Callahan and Anisimov injuries earned Mats Zuccarello a call-up for the first time since October, and in the short period of time he was given to prove himself he did well, adding some extra creativity in the offensive zone, adding two goals and an assist in one game, and showing much improved work away from the puck. Thus, there was little chance Tortorella was going to take him out of the lineup. Fedotenko was perhaps the obvious choice for at least right now. Though Mike Rupp has been limited in his contributions since the All-Star break he’s been much better in recent games. John Mitchell’s work in the defensive zone, on faceoffs, and his forechecking were probably enough for Tortorella to keep him in.
Fedotenko has not been bad by any means; in fact, he is a reliable, responsible player. And he plays hard. However, the Rangers are on of the top teams in the league and that doesn’t happen without having a number of quality players. Fedotenko seems worn down and hasn’t contributed enough in really any aspect of the game to stick in the lineup. Prust, Boyle, and Mitchell are better fits physically and on the PK while Zuccarello and Anisimov contribute much more offense than Fedotenko can. I imagine that we haven’t seen the last of him; he’s got the playoff pedigree and will surely get a chance again,whether because of injury or a slip in play of another forward. But for now Tortorella probably made the right call.