Glen Sather, Jim Dolan

Rangers in curious cap situation after re-signing Brassard

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The New York Rangers perked up a few eyebrows on Sunday when they re-signed restricted free agent forward Derick Brassard to a five-year, $25 million deal.

While he was a great contributor to the Rangers’ Stanley Cup Final run last season on the third line, some have wondered if he’s worth that kind of pay out. That debate is there to be had, but the effect it has on the Rangers’ salary cap is what may have fans stressing out all season.

The Rangers have one more restricted free agent left to re-sign — defenseman John Moore. Larry Brooks of the New York Post said if he comes in at around $1 million, the Rangers could be looking at around $1.3 million in cap space. That would happen if Chris Mueller and Matt Hunwick start the season in the AHL. As it is right now, according to CapGeek.com, they have $1.33 million in cap space to get Moore signed.

Walking that kind of salary tightrope means GM Glen Sather will have to be shrewd with call-ups. It also puts some of the other signings this summer under the microscope. Tanner Glass’ three-year, $4.35 million deal with a $1.45 million cap hit stands out especially since he’s likely going to play the fourth line or not at all.

If there’s a bright side here it’s that the players battling for the final spots on the roster all come in with similar cap numbers.

Jesper Fast ($805K), J.T. Miller ($894,167), and Mueller ($600K) will battle up front while Mike Kostka ($650K) and Hunwick ($600K) will fight for the seventh defenseman job. That means coach Alain Vigneault can pick and choose out of this bunch without stressing too much about what it’ll do to the cap. Still, the Rangers are pushing the limit and not having that flexibility can cause problems if/when injuries arise.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.