Rangers: Late lineup scratch delays Will Cuylle’s debut on 1st line

New York Rangers left wing Will Cuylle (50) skates against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period at Madison Square Garden
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers were about to put a new top-line combination on the ice that included rookie Will Cuylle, but a last-minute scratch of Mika Zibanejad delayed the trio’s debut.

New York Rangers rookie Will Cuylle was ready to take advantage of playing on a line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad on Thursday night. Unfortunately for the rookie, Zibanejad was a last-minute scratch (flu), so the newly formed top line will have to wait for a few days at the very least.

Zibanejad felt well at the morning skate, but pregame warmups were a different story for the Rangers center.

“It’s going around from team to team,” head coach Peter Laviolette said after the Blueshirts loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

“Morning skate, he was good. Just took a turn for the worse right at game time. He was out for warm-ups and we were thinking it was going to be good. He’ll get some rest, he’ll be back.”

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Forced to play down a forward, the Rangers went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, with Zac Jones in the lineup for the first time since December 15th.

Johnny Broodzinski centered Kreider and Cuylle to start the game. Cuylle was one of only two players (Barclay Goodrow was the other) who was a plus player in the loss.

The Rangers now head to Washington to start the front end of a home and home on Saturday and Sunday against the Capitals. Hopefully, the Flu bug won’t go through the locker room, but with the luck the Rangers have had over the last three weeks, that scenario is highly unlikely.

Follow Frank on X at @RangerProud