New York Rangers forward Erik Christensen has been a healthy scratch for 20 games this season, including the past 10 games. In fact, the last time Christensen played for the Rangers, they faced the Phoenix Coyotes on December 17—whom the Rangers beat last night 2-1 in a nail-biter of a shootout lasting six rounds.
Christensen was sent to the Rangers AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale, on a conditioning stint that should last no more than two weeks. The assignment is temporary in nature and unlike Sean Avery, is not considered a demotion. Christensen was not put on waivers and the purpose is to give him ice time which he has not seen for quite some time with the Rangers.
Christensen said he is "excited to play" for the Whale, and according to ESPN.com's Katie Strang, the conversation between Rangers head coach John Tortorella and Christensen was "easy."
"He needs to play," Tortorella said.
Christensen is taking the opportunity in stride.
"That's the toughest thing about being out for so long is that it's not the physical, it's the mental. It's how you handle it mentally," said Christensen, who has one goal and four assists in 20 games this season. "I've had some bad days where it feels pretty hopeless, but I think today's a good day. I'm going down there and I'll be playing hockey again. That's the only thing that matters."
One possibility is that although Christensen may have the chance to rejoin the team down the road, he very easily could be put on waivers and sent down to the AHL eventually.
Tortorella has expressed that he does not want to make any changes at this time to his lineups since the Rangers continue to win.
The Rangers are currently first in the league with 58 points in 40 games played. The Rangers are 55 points away from beating their best record in franchise history, set in 1994.