Morgan Barron & Tarmo Reunanen promoted by the Rangers

Injuries are piling up for the New York Rangers and that means lineup changes when they take on the Islanders in the second game of what was supposed to be a key series.  We may see Morgan Barron and Tarmo Reunanen in the lineup.

Brett Howden,  Jacob Trouba, Ryan Lindgren and Chris Kreider are all injured and could miss the game.   Howden broke his foot on Thursday night and is out for the remainder of the season while Lindgren and Kreider are game time decisions.  Trouba is still day-to-day, recovering from what is believed to be a concussion.

The other lineup change will be in goal with Alexandar Georgiev getting the start.  He’s been an Islander killer and will be interesting to see if he can lift the team to victory after two demoralizing losses to the Islanders.

Who is Morgan Barron?

Morgan Barron is a 22 year old center who starred for Cornell University and turned pro after last season.  He has been the scoring leader for the Hartford Wolf Pack with 10 goals and 21 points in 21 games.   He was a late round find, selected 174th overall in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

In his last year at Cornell he was one of the best players in the ECAC Conference and was the ECAC Player of the Year and a First Team All-Star Team for the top team in the conference.  He made the NCAA East First All-American Team, the Ivy League First Team and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.  When the Ivy League season was cancelled due to COVID-19, he signed his Entry Level Contract.

Barron said that he feels is  “well prepared” and  spoke about making his debut and what he brings to the team.  “With my size I think I can be someone who can get up and down the ice and be trusted on both sides of the puck and bring a little big of physicality…something I really worked on in Hartford was being hard to play against…and getting in the hard areas, the corners and front of the net and such…trying to create as much on the offensive side without giving up things on the defensive side.”

David Quinn would not commit to putting Barron in the lineup tonight. He would be a natural replacement for Howden, but it depends on which players are out. . “There’s a good chance that both of them (Reunanen and Barron)  will be in, but we’re not 100 percent yet. ”


The injuries

Howden fractured his foot late in Thursday’s game and that means an end to what was a brutal season.    He played in 42 games, missing a handful due to the COVID protocol and scored only one empty net goal while adding six assists with a plus/minus of -2.  Valued for his ability to play defense and win faceoffs, he won 46.6% of his draws and had surrendered that role to Kevin Rooney by midway through the season.  Note that his faceoff percentage was still best on the team of anyone who took over 200 draws.

Chris Kreider hurt his back in a collision on Tuesday night and has not practiced since that game and Ryan Lindgren took the brunt of a collision with a stanchion by the Rangers’ bench and looked to be possibly concussed.

With Trouba and Lindgren out it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Quinn will go with Reunanen over Tony Bitetto on defense.  Reunanen was the leading scorer among defensemen on the Wolf Pack with four goals and 17 points in 21 games.  He played in one game with the Rangers this season, registering an assist.  It will mean that half of the defense will be manned by rookies with a combined 54 games of NHL experience.  It should be interesting.

The new lineup

There’s no doubt with the Rangers’ playoff hopes hanging by a thread, that there is no way that players like Barron and Reunanen would be in the lineup without the injuries.   Some Ranger fans have been calling for the team to throw these young players into these games in order to get them experience so they will be better prepared when the team is really ready to compete for a playoff spot as early as next season.

Ironically, Quinn is being forced to do it earlier than he would prefer and we will see how that works out.  The next step in the growth process would be to switch up the lines and experiment on the power play.  As talented as the power play unit has been, it has grown stale and with the long term prospects of players like Ryan Strome and Pavel Buchnevich up in the air, it’s time to find out what the power play unit of the future should be.

As for goal, if Georgiev plays lights out and wins, it will open the floodgates of second guessing Quinn’s selection of Shesterkin to start on Thursday.  That call was probably the most understandable of all of his lineup decision, considering the investment that the team has made in Shesterkin as their number one netminder.  He has to prove that he can win big games, something that he has not done year considering that the two recent  losses to the Islanders were the two biggest games of this season and his career.  Of course, he got very little help from the team in front of him.