LOS ANGELES – The New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings both could have key defensemen back in their lineups for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday.
Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr is likely to return from a 14-game absence with a knee injury, while Rangers defenseman John Moore also is expected to be back in the New York lineup at Staples Center.
Regehr hasn’t played since the opening game of Los Angeles’ second-round series against Anaheim May 3, when he injured his knee on a check by Teemu Selanne. The 34-year-old defenseman has been skating in practice with the Kings, waiting for an opportunity to get back into a winning lineup.
Coach Darryl Sutter said Friday that Regehr “probably” will play in Game 2. Assistant captain Matt Greene, who plays the fewest minutes among the Kings’ six regular defensemen, is the most likely candidate to be scratched.
Regehr should be amply motivated, since he is among the few Los Angeles skaters without a Stanley Cup ring from the 2012 championship team.
The 14-year NHL veteran joined the Kings late last season in a trade with Buffalo, immediately fitting into Los Angeles’ defensive scheme with his hard-hitting game. He also kills penalties for the Kings.
Regehr made the Stanley Cup finals with Sutter and the Calgary Flames in 2004, but hadn’t returned to the NHL’s biggest stage.
“When you’re a younger player, you don’t fully understand the opportunity when you’re getting it,” Regehr said. “That was me 10 years ago. We had a pretty good team, and you think you’ll be around it for a while. Then we had the (2004-05) lockout, and when we came back, we weren’t there. Now that I’m back in this position, I know how rare it can be for a player to get this chance, and you don’t want to waste it.”
Moore is eligible to return from a two-game suspension for his hit on Montreal’s Dale Weise in the Eastern Conference finals. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault won’t comment on his potential lineup, but Moore seems likely to replace Raphael Diaz, who struggled at times in New York’s 3-2 overtime loss in the finals opener.
“I don’t know what the plan is, but hopefully I’m back in,” Moore said after the Rangers’ practice at Staples Center on Friday.
Moore is a plus-4 with one assist in 17 postseason games for the Rangers, but he had to watch New York’s clinching victory over Montreal and its finals-opening loss from the stands. The NHL ruled that Weise’s head was the main point of contact for Moore’s hit, leading to a short suspension.
Moore declined to comment extensively on his ban.
“I certainly don’t see that affecting my game moving forward,” Moore said.
Moore was a steady presence on the Rangers’ blue line this season, scoring 15 points in 74 games.
“I know that if we need him, he will be (ready),” Vigneault said. “He works extremely hard. He’s only missed two games. How he’s going to respond after being suspended, that question goes to him. I think he’ll be fine. He’s given us some real important minutes this year and I think he’ll be fine.”
Vigneault wouldn’t say much about the health of backup goalie Cam Talbot, who missed Game 1 with an undisclosed injury. Talbot didn’t practice Friday while third-stringer David Leneveu joined Henrik Lundqvist on the ice.
Vigneault said forward J.T. Miller is available to the Rangers after apparently getting hurt in the conference finals. Miller has two assists in four playoff games for New York.