As he prepares to start the season for the fourth time, Vitali Kravtsov doesn’t even want to think about the multiple injuries that have limited him to roughly 28:52 of ice time over just four games.
And why would he? Kravtsov has experienced one of the worst sequences of bad luck through the Rangers’ first 13 games of the season. The other team to that, however, is the fact that there isn’t a player on the Rangers roster who needs a little luck more than Kravtsov. It’s a palpable desire to prove himself, especially given his rocky relationship with the organization over the past couple of seasons, but Kravtsov hasn’t been able to stay on the ice long enough to do so.
Kravtsov skated on the right wing on the third line with Chris Kreider and Filip Chytil during practice Monday, indicating the 22-year-old wing should be ready to go against the Islanders on Tuesday after missing the past four games with an undisclosed upper body. Damage.
“Play well, help the team and help myself,” he said when asked about his goal to return to action. “Play hard, play fast. Just need to find that confidence and I think [during] practice I found a little. I feel much better right now than I did a week or a month ago.”
The last part of his first sentence should be Kravtsov’s focus. All Kravtsov can do at this point is try to put himself in the best position to succeed at the NHL level. But that includes playing smart — not leaving himself vulnerable to injury — and making sure he’s noticeable in a lineup that desperately needs an offensive spark.
“I want the puck too much,” he said. “I need to be more confident in the games with the puck, without the puck, on the forecheck/backcheck. I will build that confidence, everything will be much better.”
In addition, defenseman Ryan Lindgren, who missed Sunday’s game against the Red Wings with an upper-body injury suffered on a hit from Bruins winger David Pastrnak earlier this month, is doubtful to play Tuesday night. He resumed skating but will likely be sidelined for a second straight game.
Julien Gauthier suffered an upper-body injury against Detroit on Sunday and did not participate in practice. Rangers labeled the 25-year-old winger as day-to-day.
Defenseman Adam Fox sat out practice for maintenance purposes, the Rangers said.