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You remember him, don’t you?
Twenty-three-year-old winger, righthanded shot, Carolina first-rounder acquired last year in a trade, 6-4, 230, drives to the net, has intermittent issues in his own end of the ice and away from the puck.
Hasn’t played since April 3.
That Julien Gauthier.
“There are only so many times you can talk to him about the situation we’re in,” head coach David Quinn said before Gauthier’s 12th straight healthy scratch and 22nd overall would come against the Sabres at the Garden on Sunday. “He’s worked really hard, there has been talk about getting him in, but at the end of the day he’s just got to keep being the professional he’s been and work as hard as he has off the ice.”
Gauthier, who has recorded two goals and eight points in 27 games, slid down the right-wing ladder once Vitali Kravtsov was deemed ready. They both were in the lineup for Kravtsov’s NHL debut on April 3 in Buffalo while Brett Howden was on the COVID protocol list, but that was it for the Quebec native, who came out of training camp as the right wing on the unit with Alexis Lafreniere and Filip Chytil.
“Listen, I’m sure he doesn’t like it. Why would a player like it sitting as long as he has?” Quinn asked rhetorically. “But with all the young players we have and the way some of the veterans are playing — guys we might target as who could come out of the lineup — we just don’t think that’s the thing to do right now.
“It’s not easy for him but he’s handled it well. I have a lot of respect for him for the way he’s handled it. It’s a tough situation but he’s done a good job managing it.”
Quinn reported that Jacob Trouba, who is believed to have sustained a concussion on that Matt Martin first-period check at the Coliseum on April 20, “keeps getting better every day.”
The coach not only did not rule out No. 8’s potential return at some point this season but twice categorized the defenseman as “day-to-day.”
Trouba will miss his third straight on Sunday, though, so for the third straight game the Blueshirts went with a defense that featured five players age 23 and under.
That included Zac Jones, who made his NHL debut in Thursday’s match against the Flyers, 12 days after he had played in UMass’ national championship 5-0 victory over St. Cloud State.
“It was awesome, the first game getting out there to play an NHL game was pretty special for me and my family,” the 20-year-old said. “I tried to calm my nerves pretty quickly and felt more comfortable in the second game for sure as far as speed and physicality. I hope to be getting better every game.”
Jones is a lefty who has played the right side with the Rangers. That is not entirely new for him. “I usually play the left but growing up until about high school, I played the right side,” he said. “So I’m used to either and good with either position.”
Jones’ ability to work on his off side has allowed him to partner with Ryan Lindgren, with whom he’s played 14:57 of his 21:04 on the ice while at five-on-five. He has also gotten 2:22 on the second power-play unit.
“Lindy has been great for me,” said Jones. “He’s been talking to me all the time, giving me pointers after almost every shift, which has been great for me just learning from him and watching him on the ice.
“He’s been a great influence on me so far.”
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